Beyond Deconstruction: The Uses and Abuses of Literary Theory

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Clarendon Press, 1986 - 226 pages
What have they done to literary criticism? Where is it leading-and where will it all end? The past two decades have seen swift and radical changes in the way literature is perceived and taught in this country and abroad. The emergence of a myriad of new schools of literary theory is perplexing-perhaps even disturbing-but Howard Felperin offers guidance to the bemused in this balanced and lively overview of all the major schools of contemporary literary theory. Steering clear of technicalities as he explains, explores, and occasionally takes issue, Felperin surveys the large movements in critical thought that have succeeded "new" and practical criticism, and focuses on the major schools and figures of structuralism, marxism, and deconstruction. While in sympathy with the far-reaching critique of institutional practices that these movements represent, he also shows us that we must separate the purist and imperialist tendencies of the new theory from the genuine gains in critical self-consciousness that it has made possible. This new potential for textual and cultural understanding is strikingly illustrated through a fresh reading of Shakespeare's sonnets in the light of post structuralist thought. Responsive to developments on both sides of the Atlantic and to relations and differences between them, Beyond Deconstruction is a comprehensive, incisive introduction to a burgeoning field.

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Contents

A Guide to the Perplexed
1
Leavisism Revisited
6
Marxism Redivivus
50
Structuralism in Retrospect
74
Deconstruction Reconstructed
104
A Reading of Shakespeares Sonnets
147
Beyond Theory
200
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About the author (1986)

Howard Felperin is at Macquarie University, Sydney.

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