Using Critical Theory : How to Read and Write About Literature book cover
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Using Critical Theory
How to Read and Write About Literature





ISBN 9780415616171
Published September 6, 2011 by Routledge
368 Pages

 
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Book Description

Explaining both why theory is important and how to use it, Lois Tyson introduces beginning students of literature to this often daunting area in a friendly and approachable style. The new edition of this textbook is clearly structured with chapters based on major theories that students are expected to cover in their studies.

Key features include:

  • coverage of major theories including psychoanalysis, Marxism, feminism, lesbian/gay/queer theories, postcolonial theory, African American theory, and a new chapter on New Criticism (formalism)
  • practical demonstrations of how to use these theories on short literary works selected from canonical authors including William Faulkner and Alice Walker
  • a new chapter on reader-response theory that shows students how to use their personal responses to literature while avoiding typical pitfalls
  • new sections on cultural criticism for each chapter
  • new ‘further practice’ and ‘further reading’ sections for each chapter
  • a useful "next step" appendix that suggests additional literary titles for extra practice.

Comprehensive, easy to use, and fully updated throughout, Using Critical Theory is the ideal first step for students beginning degrees in literature, composition and cultural studies.

Table of Contents

Preface for Instructors  Acknowledgments  1. Critical Theory and You  What Does Critical Theory Have to Do with Me?  What Will I Learn about Critical Theory from This Book?  Critical Theory and Cultural Criticism  Three Questions about Interpretation Most Students Ask  Why Feeling Confused Can Be a Good Sign  2. Using Concepts from Reader-Response Theory to Understand Our Own Literary Interpretations  Why Should We Learn about Reader-Response Theory?  Response Vehicles  Personal Identification  The Familiar Character  The Familiar Plot Event  The Familiar Setting  Response Exercises  Personal-Identification Exercise  Familiar-Character Exercise  Familiar-Plot-Event Exercise  Familiar-Setting Exercise  How Our Personal Responses Can Help or Hinder Interpretation  Using Our Personal Responses to Generate Paper Topics  Food for Further Thought  Thinking It Over  Reader-Response Theory and Cultural Criticism  Taking the Next Step  Exercises for Further Practice  Suggestions for Further Reading  3. Using Concepts from New Critical Theory to Understand Literature  Why Should We Learn about New Critical Theory?  Basic Concepts  Theme  Formal Elements  Unity  Close Reading and Textual Evidence  Interpretation Exercises  Appreciating the Importance of Tradition: Interpreting "Everyday Use"  Recognizing the Presence of Death: Interpreting "A Rose for Emily"  Understanding the Power of Alienation: Interpreting "The Battle Royal"  Respecting the Importance of Nonconformity: Interpreting "Don’t Explain"  Responding to the Challenge of the Unknown: Interpreting "I started Early—Took my Dog  Food for Further Thought  Thinking It Over  New Critical Theory and Cultural Criticism  Taking the Next Step  Questions for Further Practice  Suggestions for Further Reading  4. Using Concepts from Psychoanalytic Theory to Understand Literature  Why Should We Learn about Psychoanalytic Theory?  Basic Concepts  The Family  Repression and the Unconscious  The Defenses  Core Issues  Dream Symbolism  Interpretation Exercises  Analyzing Characters’ Dysfunctional Behavior: Interpreting "Everyday Use"  Exploring a Character’s Insanity: Interpreting "A Rose for Emily"  Understanding Dream Images in Literature: Interpreting "I started Early—Took my Dog"  Recognizing a Character’s Self-Healing: Interpreting "Don’t Explain"  Using Psychoanalytic Concepts in Service of Other Theories: Interpreting "The Battle Royal"  Food for Further Thought   Thinking It Over  Psychoanalytic Theory and Cultural Criticism  Taking the Next Step  Questions for Further Practice  Suggestions for Further Reading  5. Using Concepts from Marxist Theory to Understand Literature  Why Should We Learn about Marxist Theory?  Basic Concepts  Classism  Capitalism  Capitalist Ideologies  Competition  Commodification  The American Dream  Rugged Individualism  Religion  Interpretation Exercises  Understanding the Operations of Capitalism: Interpreting "Everyday Use"  Recognizing the Operations of the American Dream: Interpreting "The Battle Royal"  Analyzing the Operations of Classism: Interpreting "A Rose for Emily"  Resisting Classism: Interpreting "Don’t Explain"  Learning When Not to Use Marxist Concepts: Resisting the Temptation to Interpret "I started Early—Took my Dog"  Food for Further Thought  Thinking It Over  Marxist Theory and Cultural Criticism  Taking the Next Step  Questions for Further Practice  Suggestions for Further Reading  6. Using Concepts from Feminist Theory to Understand Literature  Why Should We Learn about Feminist Theory?  Basic Concepts  Patriarchy  Traditional Gender Roles  The Objectification of Women  Sexism  The "Cult of ‘True Womanhood’"  Interpretation Exercises  Rejecting the Objectification of Women: Interpreting "The Battle Royal"  Resisting Patriarchal Ideology: Interpreting "Don’t Explain"  Recognizing a Conflicted Attitude toward Patriarchy: Interpreting "Everyday Use"  Analyzing a Sexist Text: Interpreting "A Rose for Emily"  Understanding Patriarchy’s Psychological Oppression of Women: Interpreting "I started Early—Took my Dog"  Food for Further Thought  Thinking It Over  Feminist Theory and Cultural Criticism  Taking the Next Step  Questions for Further Practice  Suggestions for Further Reading  7.  Using Concepts from Lesbian, Gay, and Queer Theories to Understand Literature  Why Should We Learn about Lesbian, Gay, and Queer Theories?  Basic Concepts  Heterosexism  Homophobia  Homosocial Activities  The Woman-identified Woman  Homoerotic Imagery  Queer Theory  Interpretation Exercises  Rejecting Lesbian Stereotypes: Interpreting "Don’t Explain"  Analyzing Homophobia: Interpreting "The Battle Royal"  Recognizing the Woman-Identified Woman in a Heterosexual Text: Interpreting "Everyday Use"  Using Queer Theory: Interpreting "A Rose for Emily"  Drawing upon Context: Interpreting "I started Early—Took my Dog"  Food for Further Thought  Thinking It Over  Lesbian, Gay, and Queer Theories and Cultural Criticism  Taking the Next Step  Questions for Further Practice  Suggestions for Further Reading  8. Using Concepts from African American Theory to Understand Literature  Why Should We Learn about African American Theory?  Basic Concepts  African American Culture and Literature  Racism  Forms of Racism  Institutionalized Racism  Internalized Racism  Intraracial Racism  Double Consciousness  Interpretation Exercises  Analyzing the Overt Operations of Institutionalized Racism: Interpreting "The Battle Royal"  Recognizing the "Less Visible" Operations of Institutionalized Racism: Interpreting "Don’t Explain"  Understanding the Operations of Internalized Racism: Interpreting "Everyday Use"  Exploring the Function of Black Characters in White Literature: Interpreting "A Rose for Emily"  Learning When Not to Use African American Concepts: Resisting the Temptation to Interpret "I started Early—Took my Dog"  Food for Further Thought   Thinking It Over  African American Theory and Cultural Criticism  Taking the Next Step  Questions for Further Practice  Suggestions for Further Reading  9. Using Concepts from Postcolonial Theory to Understand Literature  Why Should We Learn about Postcolonial Theory?  Basic Concepts  Colonialist Ideology  Othering  Subaltern  The Colonial Subject  Mimicry  Unhomeliness  Anti-colonialist Resistance  Interpretation Exercises  Understanding Colonialist Ideology: Interpreting "The Battle Royal"  Analyzing the Colonial Subject: Interpreting "Everyday Use"  Exploring the Influence of Cultural Categories: Interpreting "A Rose for Emily"  Appreciating Anticolonialist Resistance: Interpreting "Don’t Explain"  Recognizing the Othering of Nature: Interpreting "I started Early—Took my Dog"  Food for Further Thought  Thinking It Over  Postcolonial Theory and Cultural Criticism  Taking the Next Step  Questions for Further Practice  Suggestions for Further Reading  10. Holding on to What You’ve Learned  A Shorthand Overview of Our Eight Critical Theories  A Shorthand Overview of Our Literary Interpretation Exercises  A Shorthand Overview of the Range of Perspectives Offered by Each Theory  Critical Theory and Cultural Criticism Revisited  Critical Theory and an Ethics for a Diverse World  Appendices  Appendix A: "I started Early—Took my Dog" (Emily Dickinson, c. 1862)  Appendix B: "A Rose for Emily" (William Faulkner, 1931)  Appendix C: "The Battle Royal" (Ralph Ellison, 1952)  Appendix D: "Everyday Use" (Alice Walker, 1973)  Appendix E: "Don’t Explain" (Jewelle Gomez, 1987)  Appendix F: Additional Literary Works for Further Practice   Index

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Author(s)

Biography

Lois Tyson is Professor of English at Grand Valley State University. She is the author of Critical Theory Today: A User-Friendly Guide and Learning for a Diverse World: Using Critical Theory to Read and Write about Literature.

Reviews

‘I know of no other book on critical theory for beginning and intermediate students that offers the same depth and breath. It offers thorough and clear applications of each theory while its rhetorical tone puts students at ease as they attempt to think about the world in new and different ways…[this] the perfect text for students new to critical theory and stands in a league of its own.’Gretchen Cline, Muskegon Community College, USA