It also includes the study of the laws that determine the development of the various aspects of artistic-literary creation, laws related to the development of different genres, literary language, versification, and argument. Bennett, A., and Royle, N. (1995) An Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory (1995), Havester Wheatsheaf. Philosophically, is revenge (for example) ever justified? One way to answer this question is to ask what happens when we read. For Althusser, the notion of structure should not be conceived as an extrinsic essence outside its effects, its relations, or its forms; therefore, interpretation must not proceed allegorically, which would simply translate one level of the text into another by a “code” that would function as a “master-narrative” (Lyotard 1984), or what Roland Barthes had earlier called a “meta-language” (Barthes 1972). It has changed English completely as a subject and given it a new burst of life, helping the subject to teach us about literature, ourselves, others and the world. The Difference Between Literary Criticism, Literary Theory and "Theory Itself" About the Author. Literary theory has not just used other disciplines to augment its own analysis. Studying different ways of interpreting offers not only perspectives on works of literature that are new, interesting and exciting, but also helps to generate new ideas and understandings about our world and our own selves. As a result of this re¬ definition, no local or regional structure, including language, can assume the role of a “meta¬ language” in interpreting other regions of the social symbolic. In big bookshops, there are sections not just for fiction, poetry, plays and so on, but also for something called ‘literary theory’. To reflect this all this, I have adapted my diagram (see diagram 2). I f a tree falls in the forest without anyone there, does it make a sound? In other words, the consistency of truth in theory is the internal coherence of the theoretical discourse itself, whose referent is not outside or opposed to its representation, but rather becomes the description of a genetic system, or structure, which can account for seemingly remote phenomena. A recent survey of all university English departments revealed that four out of every five taught a compulsory first year course on ‘literary theory’. What is it telling us about its historical period? The Importance of Literary Criticism. In The Political Unconscious (1981), Fredric Jameson extended Althusser’s critique of “ex¬ pressive causality” (that is, mechanical or allegory materialist interpretation) in a manner that had great import for cultural and literary analysis. Hence, the proper object of theory is totality which is not an empirical object and, therefore, cannot be grasped in a comprehensive representation or “world-view” ( Weltanschauung ); rather, specific objects will be represented in relation to a determinant totality which constitutes the speculative or philosophical basis of all theoretical knowledge. In the last twenty years or so, the issues raised by ‘literary theory’ have caused terrible arguments and divisions between students and teachers of English in schools, colleges and universities all over the English speaking world. In The Postmodern Condition (1984), Jean-Franpois Lyotard argued the relationship between post¬ modernism and experimentation as the condition for a renewal and revitalization of earlier avant- garde and modernist projects of culture. There are interpretations of texts that rely only on a deep knowledge of the historical period of the work in question and methods that rely on philosophical ideas about the nature of language and of how we understand reality. Appeared in The English Review, 10:2 November 1999. pp. Imagine diagram (2) in which one of the arrows, one of the ways of interpreting, was thought to be much bigger and more important than all the others. Page created by Dr Robert Eaglestone Literary theory refers to any Thus, following the Frankfurt School’s critique of the disciplinary character of knowledge in bourgeois society as the product of alienation or reification, Jameson argues that the speculative dimension of theoretical knowledge is “strategic,” and theory itself is a device (or “methodological fiction”) invented by the analyst provisionally and politically to represent a “totality” which has not undergone fragmentation into specialized or compartmentalized regions of social and cultural life.