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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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Routledge Critical Thinkers Series

Routledge Critical Thinkers is designed for students who need an accessible introduction to the key figures in contemporary critical thought. The books provide crucial orientation for further study and equip readers to engage with theorists' original texts.

The volumes in the Routledge Critical Thinkers series place each key theorist in his or her historical and intellectual context and explain:

  • why he or she is important
  • what motivated his or her work
  • what his or her key ideas are
  • who and what influenced the thinker
  • who and what the thinker has influenced
  • what to read next and why.

Featuring extensively annotated guides to further reading, Routledge Critical Thinkers is the first point of reference for any student wishing to investigate the work of a specific theorist.

  1. Hans-Georg Gadamer

    By Karl Simms

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    Hans-Georg Gadamer’s theory of hermeneutics is one of the most important modern theories of interpretation and understanding, and at its heart is the experience of reading literature. In this clear and comprehensive guide to Gadamer’s thought, Karl Simms: presents an overview of Gadamer’s life and...

    Published March 26th 2015 by Routledge

  2. Mikhail Bakhtin

    By Alastair Renfrew

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    Mikhail Bakhtin was one of the twentieth century’s most influential literary theorists. This accessible introduction to his thought begins with the questions ‘Why Bakhtin?’ and ‘Who was Bakhtin?’, before dealing in detail with his ideas on authorship and subjecthood, language, dialogism,...

    Published November 20th 2014 by Routledge

  3. Paul Gilroy

    By Paul Williams

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    Paul Gilroy has been a controversial force at the forefront of debates around race, nation, and diaspora. Working across a broad range of disciplines, Gilroy has argued that racial identities are historically constructed, formed by colonization, slavery, nationalist philosophies, and consumer...

    Published December 13th 2012 by Routledge

  4. Frantz Fanon

    By Pramod K. Nayar

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    Frantz Fanon has established a position as a leading anticolonial thinker, through key texts such as Black Skin, White Masks and The Wretched of the Earth. He has influenced the work of thinkers from Edward Said and Homi Bhabha to Paul Gilroy, but his complex work is often misinterpreted as an...

    Published November 16th 2012 by Routledge

  5. Martin Heidegger

    2nd Edition

    By Timothy Clark

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    Since the publication of his mammoth work, Being and Time, Martin Heidegger has remained one of the most influential figures in contemporary thought, and is a key influence for modern literary and cultural theory. This guidebook provides an ideal entry-point for readers new to Heidegger,...

    Published March 25th 2011 by Routledge

  6. Giorgio Agamben

    By Alex Murray

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    Giorgio Agamben is one of the most important and controversial figures in contemporary continental philosophy and critical theory. His work covers a broad array of topics from biblical criticism to Guantanamo Bay and the ‘war on terror’. Alex Murray explains Agamben’s key ideas, including: an...

    Published April 14th 2010 by Routledge

  7. Jean-Paul Sartre

    By Christine Daigle

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    A critical figure in twentieth-century literature and philosophy, Jean-Paul Sartre changed the course of critical thought, and claimed a new, important role for the intellectual. Christine Daigle sets Sartre’s thought in context, and considers a number of key ideas in detail, charting their impact...

    Published October 16th 2009 by Routledge

  8. F.R. Leavis

    By Richard Storer

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    ‘informative, succint, circumspect; an exacting introduction to Leavis as an incisive master critic. Ideal for today’s students and general readers’ – Chris Terry, Times Higher Education F.R. Leavis is a landmark figure in twentieth-century literary criticism and theory. His outspoken and...

    Published July 14th 2009 by Routledge

  9. Sigmund Freud

    2nd Edition

    By Pamela Thurschwell

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    The work of Sigmund Freud has penetrated almost every area of literary theory and cultural studies, as well as contemporary culture. Pamela Thurschwell explains and contextualises psychoanalytic theory and its meaning for modern thinking. This updated second edition explores developments and...

    Published April 27th 2009 by Routledge

  10. Jean Baudrillard

    2nd Edition

    By Richard J. Lane

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    Jean Baudrillard is one of the most controversial theorists of our time, famous for his claim that the Gulf War never happened and for his provocative writing on terrorism, specifically 9/11. This new and fully updated second edition includes: an introduction to Baudrillard’s key works and...

    Published December 8th 2008 by Routledge

  11. Edward Said

    2nd Edition

    By Bill Ashcroft, Pal Ahluwalia

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    Edward Said is perhaps best known as the author of the landmark study Orientalism, a book which changed the face of critical theory and shaped the emerging field of post-colonial studies, and for his controversial journalism on the Palestinian political situation. Looking at the context and the...

    Published October 16th 2008 by Routledge

  12. Hannah Arendt

    By Simon Swift

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    Hannah Arendt's work offers a powerful critical engagement with the cultural and philosophical crises of mid-twentieth-century Europe. Her idea of the banality of evil, made famous after her report on the trial of the Nazi war criminal, Adolf Eichmann, remains controversial to this day. In the face...

    Published October 6th 2008 by Routledge

  13. Emmanuel Levinas

    By Seán Hand

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    Best known for his theories of ethics and responsibility, Emmanuel Levinas was one of the most profound and influential thinkers of the last century. In this clear, accessible guide, Seán Hand examines why Levinas is increasingly fundamental to the study of literature and culture today.  ...

    Published September 12th 2008 by Routledge

  14. Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick

    By Jason Edwards

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick was one of the most significant literary theorists of the last forty years and a key figure in contemporary queer theory. In this engaging and inspiring guide, Jason Edwards: introduces and explains key terms such as affects, the first person, homosocialities, and queer...

    Published August 27th 2008 by Routledge

  15. Theodor Adorno

    By Ross Wilson

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    The range of Adorno's achievement, and the depth of his insights, is breathtaking and daunting. His work on literary, artistic, and musical forms, his devastating indictment of modern industrial society, and his profound grasp of Western culture from Homer to Hollywood have made him one...

    Published November 29th 2007 by Routledge

  16. Stephen Greenblatt

    By Mark Robson

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    Stephen Greenblatt is the most important exponent of 'new historicism', a dynamic critical movement which rejects the traditional reliance on individual canonical texts, exploring a multitude of other, more marginal works and voices. Questioning not just literary but social, political and cultural...

    Published October 22nd 2007 by Routledge

  17. Theorists of Modernist Poetry

    T.S. Eliot, T.E. Hulme, Ezra Pound

    By Rebecca Beasley

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    Modernist poetry heralded a radical new aesthetic of experimentation, pioneering new verse forms and subjects, and changing the very notion of what it meant to be a poet. This volume examines T.S. Eliot, T.E. Hulme and Ezra Pound, three of the most influential figures of the modernist movement, and...

    Published October 1st 2007 by Routledge

  18. Paul Virilio

    By Ian James

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    Paul Virilio is a challenging and original thinker whose work on technology, state power and war is increasingly relevant today. Exploring Virilio's main texts from their political and historical contexts, and case studies from contemporary culture and media in order to explain his...

    Published July 25th 2007 by Routledge

  19. Cyberculture Theorists

    Manuel Castells and Donna Haraway

    By David Bell

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    This book surveys a ‘cluster’ of works that seek to explore the cultures of cyberspace, the Internet and the information society. It introduces key ideas, and includes detailed discussion of the work of two key thinkers in this area, Manuel Castells and Donna Haraway, as well as outlining the...

    Published December 13th 2006 by Routledge

  20. Theorists of the Modernist Novel

    James Joyce, Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf

    By Deborah Parsons

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    Tracing the developing modernist aesthetic in the thought and writings of James Joyce, Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf, Deborah Parsons considers the cultural, social and personal influences upon the three writers. Exploring the connections between their theories, Parsons pays particular...

    Published November 30th 2006 by Routledge

  21. Feminist Film Theorists

    Laura Mulvey, Kaja Silverman, Teresa de Lauretis, Barbara Creed

    By Shohini Chaudhuri

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    Focusing on the ground-breaking work of Laura Mulvey, Kaja Silverman, Teresa de Lauretis and Barbara Creed, this book explores how, since it began in the 1970s, feminist film theory has revolutionized the way that films and their spectators can be understood. Examining the new and distinctive...

    Published August 24th 2006 by Routledge

  22. American Theorists of the Novel

    Henry James, Lionel Trilling and Wayne C. Booth

    By Peter Rawlings

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    The American theorists: Henry James, Lionel Trilling and Wayne C. Booth have revolutionized our understanding of narrative and have each championed the novel as an art form. Concepts from their work have become part of the fabric of novel criticism today, influencing theorists, authors and readers...

    Published May 25th 2006 by Routledge

  23. Antonio Gramsci

    By Steven Jones

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    For readers encountering Gramsci for the first time, Steve Jones covers key elements of his thought through detailed discussion and studies the historical context of the theorist's thought, offers examples of putting Gramsci's ideas into practice in the analysis of contemporary culture and...

    Published April 21st 2006 by Routledge

  24. Homi K. Bhabha

    By David Huddart

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    Homi K. Bhabha is one of the most highly renowned figures in contemporary post-colonial studies. This volume explores his writings and their influence on postcolonial theory, introducing in clear and accessible language the key concepts of his work, such as 'ambivalence', 'mimicry', 'hybridity'...

    Published December 20th 2005 by Routledge

  25. Louis Althusser

    By Luke Ferretter

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    Best known for his theories of ideology and its impact on politics and culture, Louis Althusser revolutionized Marxist theory. His writing changed the face of literary and cultural studies, and continues to influence political modes of criticism such as feminism, postcolonialism and queer theory....

    Published November 17th 2005 by Routledge

  26. Jacques Lacan

    By Sean Homer

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    Jacques Lacan is one of the most challenging and controversial of contemporary thinkers, as well as the most influential psychoanalyst since Freud. Lacanian theory has reached far beyond the consulting room to engage with such diverse disciplines as literature, film, gender and social theory. This...

    Published November 11th 2004 by Routledge

  27. Stuart Hall

    By James Procter

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    James Procter's introduction places Hall's work within its historical contexts, providing a clear guide to his key ideas and influences, as well as to his critics and his intellectual legacy. Stuart Hall has been pivotal to the development of cultural studies during the past forty years. Whether as...

    Published March 18th 2004 by Routledge

  28. Simone de Beauvoir

    By Ursula Tidd

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    Simone de Beauvoir's groundbreaking work has transformed the way we think about gender and identity. Without her 1949 text The Second Sex, gender theory as we know it today would be unthinkable. A leading figure in French existentialism, Beauvoir's concepts of 'becoming woman' and of woman as '...

    Published November 13th 2003 by Routledge

  29. Julia Kristeva

    By Noelle McAfee

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    One of the most original thinkers of the twentieth century, Julia Kristeva has been driving forward the fields of literary and cultural studies since the 1960s. This volume is an accessible, introductory guide to the main themes of Kristeva's work, including her ideas on:*semiotics and symbolism*...

    Published October 16th 2003 by Routledge

  30. Roland Barthes

    By Graham Allen

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    Roland Barthes is a central figure in the study of language, literature, culture and the media. This book prepares readers for their first encounter with his crucial writings on some of the most important theoretical debates, including:*existentialism and Marxism*semiology, or the 'language of...

    Published July 31st 2003 by Routledge

  31. Slavoj Zizek

    By Tony Myers

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    Slavoj Zizek is no ordinary philosopher. Approaching critical theory and psychoanalysis in a recklessly entertaining fashion, Zizek's critical eye alights upon a bewildering and exhilarating range of subjects, from the political apathy of contemporary life, to a joke about the man who thinks he's a...

    Published June 5th 2003 by Routledge

  32. Michel Foucault

    By Sara Mills

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    It is impossible to imagine contemporary critical theory without the work of Michel Foucault. His radical reworkings of the concepts of power, knowledge, discourse and identity have influenced the widest possible range of theories and impacted upon disciplinary fields from literary studies to...

    Published May 8th 2003 by Routledge

  33. Friedrich Nietzsche

    By Lee Spinks

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    It is difficult to imagine a world without common sense, the distinction between truth and falsehood, the belief in some form of morality or an agreement that we are all human. But Friedrich Nietzsche did imagine such a world, and his work has become a crucial point of departure for contemporary...

    Published April 24th 2003 by Routledge

  34. Jacques Derrida

    By Nicholas Royle

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    There are few figures more important in literary and critical theory than Jacques Derrida. Whether lauded or condemned, his writing has had far-reaching ramifications, and his work on deconstruction cannot be ignored. This volume introduces students of literature and cultural studies to Derrida's...

    Published March 13th 2003 by Routledge

  35. Paul Ricoeur

    By Karl Simms

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    Paul Ricoeur is one of the most wide-ranging thinkers to emerge in the twentieth century. He has developed a unique 'theory of reading' or hermeneutics, which extends far beyond the reading of literary works to build into a theory for the reading of 'life'. For this reason, his work has impacted...

    Published December 5th 2002 by Routledge

  36. Jean-François Lyotard

    By Simon Malpas

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    Jean-François Lyotard is one of the most celebrated proponents of what has become known as the 'postmodern'. More than almost any other contemporary theorist, he has explored the relations between knowledge, art, politics and history, in ways that offer radical new possibilities for thinking about...

    Published November 14th 2002 by Routledge

  37. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

    By Stephen Morton

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak offers an overtly political challenge to the way we think about literature and culture. As she highlights the many legacies of colonialism, she re-defines the ethical horizons of contemporary critical thought. This volume focuses on her key theoretical concepts,...

    Published October 24th 2002 by Routledge

  38. Judith Butler

    By Sara Salih

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    Since the publication of Gender Trouble in 1990, Judith Butler has revolutionised our understanding of identities and the ways in which they are constructed. This volume examines her critical thought through key texts, touching upon such issues as:* The subject* Gender* Sex* Language* The...

    Published March 28th 2002 by Routledge

  39. Gilles Deleuze

    By Claire Colebrook

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    Why think? Not, according to Gilles Deleuze, in order to be clever, but because thinking transforms life. Why read literature? Not for pure entertainment, Deleuze tells us, but because literature can recreate the boundaries of life. With his emphasis on creation, the future and the enhancement of...

    Published September 6th 2001 by Routledge

  40. Maurice Blanchot

    By Ullrich Haase, William Large

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    Without Maurice Blanchot, literary theory as we know it today would have been unthinkable. Jacques Derrida, Paul de Man, Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes, Gilles Deleuze: all are key theorists crucially influenced by Blanchot's work.This accessible guide:* works 'idea by idea' through Blanchot's...

    Published February 15th 2001 by Routledge

  41. Paul de Man

    By Martin McQuillian

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    Paul de Man's work is key to the American deconstruction movement and to the so-called political turn in critical theory. Seventeen years after his death, his works continue to arouse violent reactions among critics. This book explains why de Man is such an important voice, detailing his critical...

    Published January 25th 2001 by Routledge

  42. Fredric Jameson

    By Adam Roberts

    Series: Routledge Critical Thinkers

    An invaluable introduction to the life and work of one of today's most important cultural critics. Studied on most undergraduate literary and cultural studies courses, Fredric Jameson's writing targets subjects from architecture to science fiction, cinema to global capitalism. Of his works, The...

    Published September 7th 2000 by Routledge