Literary and Critical Theory

New Titles and Key Backlist


Routledge's Literary and Critical Theory books offer everything you could need from textbooks to research monographs. Take a look at Using Critical Theory, Lois Tyson’s introductory guide to the field, or The Routledge Queer Studies Reader, a comprehensive resource and textbook to this vibrant and interdisciplinary area. You can also see our extensive range of research and reference including the Routledge Companions series.


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The New Critical Idiom Series

Series Editor: John Drakakis, University of Stirling, UK

The well-established New Critical Idiom series continues to provide students with clear introductory guides to the most important critical terms in use today.

Each book in this popular series:

  • provides a handy, explanatory guide to the use (and abuse) of the term
  • gives an original and distinctive overview by a leading literary and cultural critic
  • relates the term to the larger field of cultural representation.

With a strong emphasis on clarity, lively debate and the widest possible breadth of examples, The New Critical Idiom is an indispensable guide to key topics in literary studies.

 

  1. Comedy

    2nd Edition

    By Andrew Stott

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    This new edition of Andrew Stott’s Comedy builds on themes presented in the first edition such as focusing on the significance of comic 'events' through study of various theoretical methodologies, including deconstruction, psychoanalysis and gender theory, and provides case studies of a number of...

    To Be Published June 29th 2014 by Routledge

  2. Genre

    2nd Edition

    By John Frow

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    This second edition of John Frow’s Genre offers a comprehensive and accessible introduction to the area. Genre is a key means by which we categorize the many forms of literature and culture, but it is also much more than that: in talk and writing, in music and images, in film and television, genres...

    To Be Published September 29th 2014 by Routledge

  3. The Canon

    By Christopher Kuipers

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    What is ‘the canon’? Who determines it? How should it be read? These are the questions that preoccupied academics during the ‘theory wars’ of the late twentieth century and continue to challenge and define literary studies today. Considering why the canon is such an important concept in literary...

    To Be Published December 14th 2014 by Routledge

  4. Narrative

    2nd Edition

    By Paul Cobley

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    Human beings have constantly told stories, presented events and placed the world into narrative form. This activity suggests a very basic way of looking at the world, yet, this book argues, even the most seemingly simple of stories is embedded in a complex network of relations. Paul Cobley traces...

    Published November 19th 2013 by Routledge

  5. Gothic

    2nd Edition

    By Fred Botting

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    This enduringly popular book has become a classic in the expanding and increasingly popular field of Gothic Studies. This long awaited new edition contains a new chapter on ‘Contemporary Gothic’, an expanded section on American Gothic and more discussion of the gothic in women’s film and writing...

    Published October 3rd 2013 by Routledge

  6. Translation

    By Susan Bassnett

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    In a time when millions travel around the planet; some by choice, some driven by economic or political exile, translation of the written and spoken word is of ever increasing importance. This guide presents readers with an accessible and engaging introduction to the valuable position translation...

    Published August 29th 2013 by Routledge

  7. Fairy Tale

    By Andrew Teverson

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    This volume offers a comprehensive critical and theoretical introduction to the genre of the fairy tale. It: explores the ways in which folklorists have defined the genre assesses the various methodologies used in the analysis and interpretation of fairy tale provides a detailed account of the...

    Published May 27th 2013 by Routledge

  8. Grotesque

    By Justin Edwards, Rune Graulund

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    Grotesque provides an invaluable and accessible guide to the use (and abuse) of this complex literary term. Justin D. Edwards and Rune Graulund explore the influence of the grotesque on cultural forms throughout history, with particular focus on its representation in literature, visual art and film...

    Published May 23rd 2013 by Routledge

  9. Epic

    By Paul Innes

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    This student guidebook offers a clear introduction to an often complex and unwieldy area of literary studies. Tracing epic from its ancient and classical roots through postmodern and contemporary examples this volume discusses: a wide range of writers including Homer, Vergil, Ovid, Dante,...

    Published January 30th 2013 by Routledge

  10. Spatiality

    By Robert T. Tally Jr.

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    Spatiality has risen to become a key concept in literary and cultural studies, with critical focus on the ‘spatial turn’ presenting a new approach to the traditional literary analyses of time and history. Robert T. Tally Jr. explores differing aspects of the spatial in literary studies today,...

    Published September 30th 2012 by Routledge

  11. Temporalities

    By Russell West-Pavlov

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    Temporalities presents a concise critical introduction to the treatment of time throughout literature. Time and its passage represent one of the oldest and most complex philosophical subjects in art of all forms, and Russell West-Pavlov explains and interrogates the most important theories of...

    Published September 26th 2012 by Routledge

  12. Romanticism

    2nd Edition

    By Aidan Day

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    Romanticism was a revolutionary intellectual and artistic movement which generated some of the most popular and influential texts in British and American literary history. This clear and engaging guide introduces the history, major writers and critical issues of this crucial era. This fully updated...

    Published December 12th 2011 by Routledge

  13. Ecocriticism

    2nd Edition

    By Greg Garrard

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    Ecocriticism explores the ways in which we imagine and portray the relationship between humans and the environment in all areas of cultural production, from Wordsworth and Thoreau through to Google Earth, J.M. Coetzee and Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man. Greg Garrard’s animated and accessible volume...

    Published July 14th 2011 by Routledge

  14. Intertextuality

    2nd Edition

    By Graham Allen

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    Theories of intertextuality suggest that meaning in a text can only ever be understood in relation to other texts; no work stands alone but is interlinked with the tradition that came before it and the context in which it is produced. This idea of intertextuality is crucial to understanding...

    Published May 18th 2011 by Routledge

  15. Travel Writing

    By Carl Thompson

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    An increasingly popular genre – addressing issues of empire, colonialism, post-colonialism, globalization, gender and politics – travel writing offers the reader a movement between the familiar and the unknown. In this volume, Carl Thompson: introduces the genre, outlining competing...

    Published May 11th 2011 by Routledge

  16. Dialogue

    By Peter Womack

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    Dialogue is a many-sided critical concept; at once an ancient philosophical genre, a formal component of fiction and drama, a model for the relationship of writer and reader, and a theoretical key to the nature of language. In all its forms, it questions ‘literature’, disturbing the singleness and...

    Published April 20th 2011 by Routledge

  17. Autobiography

    2nd Edition

    By Linda Anderson

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    If every writer necessarily draws on their own life, is any writing outside the realm of ‘autobiography’? The new edition of this classic guide is fully updated to include: developments in autobiographical criticism, highlighting major theoretical issues and concepts different forms of the genre...

    Published November 25th 2010 by Routledge

  18. Sexuality

    2nd Edition

    By Joseph Bristow

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    Theories of sexuality and desire are commonly used in literary and cultural studies. In this illuminating study Joseph Bristow introduces readers to the fundamental critical debates surrounding the topic. This fully updated second edition includes: a historical account of sexuality from the...

    Published November 25th 2010 by Routledge

  19. Interdisciplinarity

    2nd Edition

    By Joe Moran

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    Interdisciplinarity covers one of the most important changes in attitude and methodology in the history of the university. Taking the study of English as its main example, this fully updated second edition examines the ways in which we have organized knowledge into disciplines, and are now...

    Published February 3rd 2010 by Routledge

  20. The Historical Novel

    By Jerome de Groot

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    The historical novel is an enduringly popular genre that raises crucial questions about key literary concepts, fact and fiction, identity, history, reading, and writing. In this comprehensive, focused guide, Jerome de Groot offers an accessible introduction to the genre and critical debates that...

    Published September 23rd 2009 by Routledge

  21. Allegory

    By Jeremy Tambling

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    Indispensable to an understanding of Medieval and Renaissance texts and a topic of controversy for the Romantic poets, allegory remains a site for debate and controversy in the twenty-first-century. In this useful guide, Jeremy Tambling: presents a concise history of allegory, providing...

    Published August 18th 2009 by Routledge

  22. Lyric

    By Scott Brewster

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    The term ‘lyric’ has evolved, been revised, redefined and contested over the centuries. In this fascinating introduction, Scott Brewster: traces the history of the term from its classical origins through the early modern, Romantic and Victorian periods and up to the twenty-first century...

    Published May 31st 2009 by Routledge

  23. Genders

    2nd Edition

    By David Glover, Cora Kaplan

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    The concept of gender continues to be a central issue in literary and cultural studies, with a significance that crosses disciplinary boundaries and provokes lively debate. In this fully revised and updated second edition, David Glover and Cora Kaplan offer a lucid and illuminating introduction to...

    Published December 10th 2008 by Routledge

  24. Myth

    2nd Edition

    By Laurence Coupe

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    Laurence Coupe offers students a comprehensive overview of the development of myth, showing how mythic themes, structures and symbols persist in literature and entertainment today. This introductory volume: illustrates the relation between myth, culture and literature with discussions of poetry,...

    Published December 8th 2008 by Routledge

  25. Memory

    By Anne Whitehead

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    The concept of ‘memory’ has given rise to some of the most exciting new directions in contemporary theory. In this much-needed guide to a burgeoning field of a study, Anne Whitehead: presents a history of the concept of ‘memory’ and its uses, encompassing both memory as activity and the nature of...

    Published September 4th 2008 by Routledge

  26. Humanism

    2nd Edition

    By Tony Davies

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    Definitions of humanism have evolved throughout the centuries as the term has been adopted for a variety of purposes – literary, cultural and political – and reactions against humanism have contributed to movements such as postmodernism and anti-humanism. Tony Davies offers a clear...

    Published March 9th 2008 by Routledge

  27. Modernism

    2nd Edition

    By Peter Childs

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    The modernist movement radically transformed the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century literary establishment, and its effects are still felt today. Modernism introduces and analyzes what amounted to nothing less than a literary and cultural revolution. In this fully updated and revised...

    Published October 31st 2007 by Routledge

  28. Rhetoric

    By Jennifer Richards

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    Rhetoric has shaped our understanding of the nature of language and the purpose of literature for over two millennia. It is of crucial importance in understanding the development of literary history as well as elements of philosophy, politics and culture. The nature and practise of rhetoric was...

    Published August 28th 2007 by Routledge

  29. Elegy

    By David Kennedy

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    Grief and mourning are generally considered to be private, yet universal instincts. But in a media age of televised funerals and visible bereavement, elegies are increasingly significant and open to public scrutiny. Providing an overview of the history of the term and the different ways in which it...

    Published August 20th 2007 by Routledge

  30. Metaphor

    By David Punter

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    Metaphor is a central concept in literary studies, but it is also prevalent in everyday language and speech. Recent literary theories such as postmodernism and deconstruction have transformed the study of the text and revolutionized our thinking about metaphor. In this fascinating volume, David...

    Published June 4th 2007 by Routledge

  31. Performativity

    By James Loxley

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    Do our writings and our utterances reflect or describe our world, or do they intervene in it? Do they, perhaps, help to make it? If so, how? Within what limits, and with what implications? Contemporary theorists have considered the ways in which the languages we speak might be ‘performative’ in...

    Published November 16th 2006 by Routledge

  32. Mimesis

    By Matthew Potolsky

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    A topic that has become increasingly central to the study of art, performance and literature, the term mimesis has long been used to refer to the relationship between an image and its ‘real’ original. However, recent theorists have extended the concept, highlighting new perspectives on key concerns...

    Published February 22nd 2006 by Routledge

  33. Science Fiction

    2nd Edition

    By Adam Roberts

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    Science Fiction is a fascinating and comprehensive introduction to one of the most popular areas of modern culture. This second edition reflects how the field is rapidly changing in both its practice and its critical reception. With an entirely new conclusion and all other chapters fully reworked...

    Published December 14th 2005 by Routledge

  34. The Sublime

    By Philip Shaw

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    Often labelled as ‘indescribable’, the sublime is a term that has been debated for centuries amongst writers, artists, philosophers and theorists. Usually related to ideas of the great, the awe-inspiring and the overpowering, the sublime has become a complex yet crucial concept in many disciplines....

    Published November 23rd 2005 by Routledge

  35. Adaptation and Appropriation

    By Julie Sanders

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    From the apparently simple adaptation of a text into film, theatre or a new literary work, to the more complex appropriation of style or meaning, it is arguable that all texts are somehow connected to a network of existing texts and art forms. Adaptation and Appropriation explores: multiple...

    Published October 16th 2005 by Routledge

  36. Colonialism/Postcolonialism

    2nd Edition

    By Ania Loomba

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    Colonialism/Postcolonialism is a comprehensive yet accessible guide to the historical and theoretical dimensions of colonial and postcolonial studies. Ania Loomba deftly introduces and examines: key features of the ideologies and history of colonialism the relationship of colonial discourse to...

    Published August 24th 2005 by Routledge

  37. Crime Fiction

    By John Scaggs

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    Crime Fiction provides a lively introduction to what is both a wide-ranging and hugely popular literary genre. Using examples from a variety of novels, short stories, films and televisions series, John Scaggs: presents a concise history of crime fiction - from biblical narratives to James Ellroy -...

    Published January 26th 2005 by Routledge

  38. The Author

    By Andrew Bennett

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    This volume investigates the changing definitions of the author, what it has meant historically to be an 'author', and the impact that this has had on literary culture. Andrew Bennett presents a clearly-structured discussion of the various theoretical debates surrounding authorship, exploring such...

    Published December 14th 2004 by Routledge

  39. The Postmodern

    By Simon Malpas

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    Simon Malpas investigates the theories and definitions of postmodernism and postmodernity, and explores their impact in such areas as identity, history, art, literature and culture. In attempting to map the different forms of the postmodern, and the contrasting experiences of postmodernity in the...

    Published November 17th 2004 by Routledge

  40. Magic(al) Realism

    By Maggie Ann Bowers

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    Bestselling novels by Angela Carter, Salman Rushdie, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and a multitude of others have enchanted us by blurring the lines between reality and fantasy. Their genre of writing has been variously defined as 'magic', 'magical' or 'marvellous' realism and is quickly becoming a core...

    Published September 22nd 2004 by Routledge

  41. Drama/Theatre/Performance

    By Simon Shepherd, Mick Wallis

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    What is implied when we refer to the study of performing arts as 'drama', 'theatre' or 'performance'? Each term identifies a different tradition of thought and offers different possibilities to the student or practitioner. This book examines the history and use of the terms and investigates the...

    Published September 15th 2004 by Routledge

  42. Romance

    By Barbara Fuchs

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    Often derided as an inferior form of literature, 'romance' as a literary mode or genre defies satisfactory definition, dividing critics, scholars and readers alike. This useful guidebook traces the myriad transformations of 'romance' from medieval courtly love to Mills and Boon, and claims that its...

    Published September 8th 2004 by Routledge

  43. Discourse

    2nd Edition

    By Sara Mills

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    This volume provides a broad analysis of the term 'discourse' and a thorough examination of the many theoretical assumptions surrounding it. In the revised edition of this invaluable guidebook, Sara Mills:*examines the historical definitions and developments of discourse*analyzes Foucault's use of...

    Published May 26th 2004 by Routledge

  44. Difference

    By Mark Currie

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    Difference is one of the most influential critical concepts of recent decades. Mark Currie offers a comprehensive account of the history of the term and its place in some of the most influential schools of theory of the past four decades, including: * post-structuralism* deconstruction* new...

    Published February 18th 2004 by Routledge

  45. Subjectivity

    By Donald E. Hall

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    Explores the history of theories of selfhood, from the Classical era to the present, and demonstrates how those theories can be applied in literary and cultural criticism. Donald E. Hall: * examines all of the major methodologies and theoretical emphases of the twentieth and twenty-first...

    Published February 4th 2004 by Routledge

  46. Irony

    By Claire Colebrook

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    In this handy volume, Claire Colebrook offers an overview of the history and structure of irony, from Socrates to the present.Students will welcome this clear, concise guide, which:*traces the use of the concept through history, from Greek times to the Romantic period and on to the postmodern era*...

    Published September 17th 2003 by Routledge

  47. Dramatic Monologue

    By Glennis Byron

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    The dramatic monologue is traditionally associated with Victorian poets such as Robert Browning and Alfred Tennyson, and is generally considered to have disappeared with the onset of modernism in the twentieth century. Glennis Byron unravels its history and argues that, contrary to belief, the...

    Published July 23rd 2003 by Routledge

  48. Realism

    By Pam Morris

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    Coming to prominence with the nineteenth-century novel, literary realism has most often been associated with the insistence that art cannot turn away from the more sordid and harsh aspects of human existence. However, because realism is unavoidably tied up with the gnarly concept of 'reality' and '...

    Published July 9th 2003 by Routledge

  49. Ideology

    2nd Edition

    By David Hawkes

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    This new revised edition includes an updated bibliography, a new glossary and index and fresh suggestions for further reading, as well as a discussion of ideology after September 11.Ideology:*traces the history of the term and the debates which surround it, from Machiavelli to the present day*asks...

    Published May 28th 2003 by Routledge

  50. Historicism

    2nd Edition

    By Paul Hamilton

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    Historicism is the essential introduction to the field, providing its readers with the necessary knowledge, background and vocabulary to apply it in their own studies. Paul Hamilton's compact and comprehensive guide: * explains the theory and basics of historicism* presents a history of the term...

    Published May 21st 2003 by Routledge

  51. Class

    By Gary Day

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    This book traces the phenomenon of class from the medieval to the postmodern period, uniquely examining its relevance to literary and cultural analysis. Drawing on historical, sociological and literary writings, Gary Day:* gives an account of class at different historical moments* shows the role of...

    Published April 25th 2001 by Routledge

  52. Parody

    By Professor Simon Dentith

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    Parody is part of all our lives. It occurs not only in literature, but also in everyday speech, in theatre and television, architecture and films. Drawing on examples from Aristophanes to The Simpsons, Simon Dentith explores:* the place of parody in the history of literature* parody as a...

    Published June 14th 2000 by Routledge

  53. Culture/Metaculture

    By Francis Mulhern

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    Culture/Metaculture is a stimulating introduction to the meanings of 'culture' in contemporary Western society. This essential survey examines: * culture as an antidote to 'mass' modernity, in the work of Thomas Mann, Julien Benda, José Ortega y Gasset, Karl Mannheim and F. R. Leavis* changing...

    Published March 22nd 2000 by Routledge

  54. Pastoral

    By Terry Gifford

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    Pastoral is a succinct and up-to-date introductory text to the history, major writers and critical issues of this genre. Terry Gifford clarifies the different uses of pastoral covering: * the history of the genre from its classical origins to Elizabethan drama, through eighteenth-century pastoral...

    Published August 4th 1999 by Routledge

  55. The Unconscious

    By Anthony Easthope

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    The unconscious is a term which is central to the understanding of psychoanalysis, and, indeed everyday life. In this introductory guide, Antony Easthope provides a witty and accessible overview of the subject showing the reality of the unconscious with a startling variety of examples. He takes us...

    Published June 23rd 1999 by Routledge

  56. Literature

    By Peter Widdowson

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    This introductory volume provides an overview of the history of Literature as a cultural concept, and reflects on the contemporary nature, place and function of what the literary might mean for us today. Literature: * offers a concise history of the canonic concept of 'literature' from its earliest...

    Published December 9th 1998 by Routledge

  57. Stylistics

    By Richard Bradford

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    Richard Bradford provides a definitive introductory guide to modern critical ideas on literary style and stylistics. It will provide students with a basic grasp of stylistics and literary analysis.This comprehensive and accessible guidebook for undergraduates examines:* the terminology of literary...

    Published February 26th 1997 by Routledge

  58. Metre, Rhythm and Verse Form

    By Philip Hobsbaum

    Series: The New Critical Idiom

    Poetry criticism is a subject central to the study of literature. However, it is laden with technical terms that, to the beginning student, can be both intimidating and confusing. Philip Hobsbaum provides a welcome remedy, illuminating terms ranging from the iambus to the bob-wheel stanza, and...

    Published November 15th 1995 by Routledge