Engagements with Contemporary Literary and Critical Theory  book cover
1st Edition

Engagements with Contemporary Literary and Critical Theory

ISBN 9781138853270
Published November 1, 2019 by Routledge
208 Pages

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Book Description

Engagements with Contemporary Literary and Critical Theory is a wide-ranging but accessible introduction to the key thinkers and theories integral to the study of literature. Organized thematically, the book provides historical introductions and uses a variety of relevant contemporary examples to illuminate the field.

Evan Gottlieb contextualizes the latest developments with regard to forms; discourses; subjectivities and embodiments; media, networks, and machines; and animals, affects, objects, and environments. Each chapter elucidates its concepts through in-depth discussions of major contemporary theorists, including Giorgio Agamben, Sara Ahmed, and Catherine Malabou, and uses engaging examples from a canonical novel, a contemporary text, and a new-media artifact to demonstrate theoretical applications. Additional text boxes regularly introduce emerging or overlooked theorists of interest, including Fred Moten and Sianne Ngai. 

An ideal guide for students of literary and critical theory, this book will give readers the background they need to continue their own explorations of this vibrant field of study.

Table of Contents


Structure of the book and some caveats


  1. Forms
  2. Matters of form in the twentieth century

    Terry Eagleton: the Marxist critic as public intellectual

    Fredric Jameson: committing to form and history

    Franco Moretti: maps, graphs, and distant reading

    Engaging with classic literature: Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park

    Engaging with contemporary literature: Ian McEwan’s Atonement

    Engaging with film and new media: Austen on the big screen


  3. Discourses
  4. Matters of discourse in modernity

    Jean Baudrillard: prophet of the postmodern

    Giorgio Agamben: a genealogy of biopolitics

    Rey Chow: entangling ethnicity, visuality, and language

    Engaging with classic literature: Emily Brontё’s Wuthering Heights

    Engaging with contemporary literature: Hari Kunzru’s White Tears

    Engaging with film and new media: Easy


  5. Subjectivities and embodiments
  6. The birth of the subject

    Slavoj Žižek: theorizing with psychoanalysis and Marxism

    Judith Butler: beyond gender performativity

    Catherine Malabou: philosophy, plasticity, neuroscience

    Engaging with classic literature: Daniel Defoe’s The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe

    Engaging with contemporary literature: Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch

    Engaging with film and new media: The Fall


  7. Media, networks, machines
  8. Toward our contemporary media moment

    Jacques Rancière: aesthetics for everyone

    Bruno Latour: from networks to modes of existence and beyond

    N. Katherine Hayles: defining the posthuman

    Engaging with classic literature: Bram Stoker’s Dracula

    Engaging with contemporary literature: Gwyneth Jones’s Proof of Concept

    Engaging with film and new media: Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther


  9. Animals, affects, objects, environments

We have never been human

Donna Haraway: cyborgs, companion species, Chthulucene

Sara Ahmed: affects, objects, and feminist killjoys

Timothy Morton: being ecological with object-oriented ontology

Engaging with classic literature: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Engaging with contemporary literature: Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation

Engaging with film and new media: Margaret Atwood’s Angel Catbird


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Evan Gottlieb is Professor of English at Oregon State University, USA.