Critical Theory Today
A User-Friendly Guide, 2nd Edition
By Lois Tyson
Routledge – 2007 – 488 pages
Critical Theory Today is the essential introduction to contemporary criticial theory. It provides clear, simple explanations and concrete examples of complex concepts, making a wide variety of commonly used critical theories accessible to novices without sacrificing any theoretical rigor or thoroughness.
This new edition provides in-depth coverage of the most common approaches to literary analysis today: feminism, psychoanalysis, Marxism, reader-response theory, new criticism, structuralism and semiotics, deconstruction, new historicism, cultural criticism, lesbian/gay/queer theory, African American criticism, and postcolonial criticism. The chapters provide an extended explanation of each theory, using examples from everyday life, popular culture, and literary texts; a list of specific questions critics who use that theory ask about literary texts; an interpretation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby through the lens of each theory; a list of questions for further practice to guide readers in applying each theory to different literary works; and a bibliography of primary and secondary works for further reading.
'Wise and helpful, inspiriting and provocative, reassuring and calming, comprehensive and convincing…should be adopted as an exemplar of how critical theory can be accommodated and described without sacrificing clarity and seriousness of purpose. If only those producing critical theory could hew to the expository and pedagogical standards of this volume, theory would be much more accepted as a valid and necessary part of contemporary social and intellectual life rather than as a…series of codes and ritual practised by an academic clerisy.' – David Greetham, Distinguished Professor, City University of New York, Graduate Center, USA
'Tyson has covered the entire range of current theories and presents them in accessible prose…she makes psychoanalysis come alive as a body of ideas that can help the students learn important things about their lives and, as a result, about Literature…it is better than any other work I have seen…I would use it as the text in an introduction to theory for undergraduates…also be a regular source in a number of other courses, since its coverage of a range of theories makes it a fine starting point in numerous cases.' – Walter A. Davis, Professor of English, The Ohio State University, USA
'Tyson's incomparable critical theory textbook is the long-awaited answer to my prayers…While it is intellectually rigorous, it is a kinder, gentler theory text which prioritizes encouraging students to reach and enabling them to meet its challenges, rather than intimidating and debilitating them with pretentious jargon…uniquely accessible…Tyson's respectful and thoughtful negotiation of the lesbian/gay/queer theory chapter is particularly outstanding…a tour-de-force which puts others to shame and should inhabit every personal and professional academic library…we owe her a world of gratitude for this enlightening, passionate achievement.' – Roseanne Hoefel, Department of English, Alma College
'The very best thing by far that has been done in the field…clear coverage of every major field in literary criticism without sacrifice of accuracy…written from a uniquely integrated theoretical perspective, it could easily be used in philosophy as well as English literature classes.'– Alan Hausman, Department of Philosophy, Hunter College, City University of New York, USA
Preface to the second edition Preface for intructors Acknowledgements 1. Everything you wanted to know about critical theory but were afraid to ask 2. Psychoanalytic criticism 3. Marxist criticism 4. Feminist criticism 5. New criticism 6. Reader-response criticism 7. Structuralist criticism 8. Deconstructive criticism 9. New historical and cultural criticism 10. Lesbian, gay and queer criticism 11. African American criticism 12. Postcolonial criticism 13. Gaining an overview Index
Lois Tyson is a Professor of English at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, USA.