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The Literary Theory Toolkit


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Table of Contents

Preface Chapter 1: Introductory Tools for Literary Analysis 1.1. Basics 1.2. Common Critical Practices 1.3. Literary Language 1.4. Hermeneutics 1.5. Major 20th Century Schools of Critical Analysis 1.6. Socio-Political Analyses Chapter 2: Tools for Reading Narrative 2.1. Story and Plot: Fabula and Syuzhet 2.2. Order 2.3. Mimesis/Diegesis 2.4. Free Indirect Discourse 2.5. Interior Monologue 2.6. Diachronic and Synchronic 2.7. Intertextuality 2.8. Dialogism 2.9. Chronotope 2.10. Character Zone 2.11. Focalization 2.12. Narrative Codes Chapter 3: Tools for Reading Poetry 3.1. Tropes 3.2. Elision 3.3. Resemblance 3.4. Objective Correlative 3.5. Language Poetry 3.6. The New Sentence 3.7. Sound Poetry/Concrete Poetry 3.8. Prosody Chapter 4: Tools for Analyzing Performance 4.1. Performance Studies 4.2. Realist Theatre: Total Acting 4.3. Konstantin Stanislavski 4.4. Lee Strasberg (The Method), David Mamet (Practical Aesthetics), Mary Overlie (The Six Viewpoints Approach) 4.5. Epic Theatre 4.6. Theater of Cruelty 4.7. Actions 4.8. Play 4.9. Happenings 4.10. Performance Art 4.11. Guerrila Theatre Chapter 5: Tools for Reading Texts as Systems 5.1. Aristotle and Form 5.2. The Literary Work as Object of Rational Empiricism 5.3. Saussurean Linguistics 5.4. Levi-Strauss and Structuralism 5.5. Roman Jakobson?s Communication Model 5.6. Roland Barthes? Hierarchical Structures 5.7. Ideality and Phenomenology of the Literary Object: Husserl and Derrida 5.8. Dissemination 5.9. Structure as Rhizome: Deleuze and Guattari 5.10. Permutation 5.11. Undecidability: Derrida, Goedel, Lacan 5.12. Simulating Systems: Baudrillard 5.13. Multiplicity: Badiou Chapter 6: Tools for Social Analysis 6.1. The Public Sphere 6.2. Ideology 6.3. Theories of Power 6.4. The Social Relation

About the Author

Herman Rapaport is Reynolds Professor of English, Wake Forest University, North Carolina, USA. He has published several books on aspects of Jacques Derrida's work and is currently doing research in the Derrida archives for a forthcoming project Archival Derrida.


"Rapaport (Wake Forest Univ.) calls this clearly written book "acompendium of major issues and developments in literary criticismand theory" and "a companion to major issues in literary criticismand theory that can be read linearly in terms of units or areas. .. Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above."(Choice, 1 October 2011) "This is not simply a masterful and lucid introduction toliterary theory, but one that explains entertainingly andrigorously how "theory," as it has emerged from a range ofdisciplines, is relevant to literary study. In the besttradition of the critical introduction, Rapoport's narrative andorganization are provocatively original in their own right." Eleanor Kauffman, University of California, LosAngeles "The Literary Theory Toolkit offers an excellentintroduction to literary theory, but it is much more than this.Rapaport gives us an extraordinary toolbag for (in his own phrase)rummaging in. Alongside consistently lucid and perceptive accountsof different theorists, movements, concepts and arguments, there isan admirable focus on avant-garde writing and on performance art,as well as a constant concern with the social and politicalcontexts of literary studies. One of the most probing,thought-provoking and original books of its kind, The LiteraryTheory Toolkit is at once idiosyncratic and authoritative,instructive and exhilarating." Nicholas Royle, University of Sussex "The Literary Theory Toolkit offers students, researchersand teachers an extremely clear guide to the myriad complexities ofrecent literary theory set against a deep historical background.Herman Rapaport is exceptionally thorough and non-partisan. Withprecise yet economic detail he outlines the many different conceptsthat theorists have used to explain how texts work, giving carefulattention to ways these ideas can work together or may clash; mostimportant of all, he demonstrates how to use them in practice,starting with basic assumptions made explicit, and then proceedingstep by step through examples of how these concepts can be shapedinto sophisticated arguments and rewarding interpretations.Rapaport is an outstanding educator who never loses sight of hisgoal: to help students learn to reason about literary texts forthemselves, and in doing so to be able to argue both with andagainst the theorists and theories. The book is full of highlyreadable worked examples of the interpretation of texts of allkinds, including the sort of texts that are often neglected inliterary textbooks, the ones that are tricky to negotiate becauseopaque, avant-garde, or seeming to rely on extra-textual effectssuch as performance. This is an essential addition to that smallnumber of guides and reference books that every student ofliterature will want to own." Peter Middleton, University of Southampton "The Literary Theory Toolkit offers students, researchersand teachers an extremely clear guide to the myriad complexities ofrecent literary theory set against a deep historical background...This is an essential addition to that small number of guides andreference books that every student of literature will want toown." Peter Middleton, University of Southampton "In the quarter century since Terry Eagleton's landmark study,Literary Theory: An Introduction (Oxford: Blackwell,1983), there have been dozens of books that aim at achieving avirtually encyclopedic chronicle of the various schools and methodsof literary interpretation. Amidst this daunting array ofthoughtful meditations on the myriad ways of characterizing thething called 'literature,' Herman Rapaport's Literary TheoryToolkit presents a strikingly innovative perspective on theoryand criticism that combines succinct and accessible accounts of themost significant approaches to the experience of literature with aunique and compelling orientation to both contemporary avant-gardeexperimental poetics and performance theory. This volume willestablish itself as an indispensable resource for anyone interestedin contemporary thinking about everything from Saussureanlinguistics to Badiou's relation to Derrida to Meryl Streep's styleof acting, from Milton's politics to the crisis of thinking aboutcommunity after the Holocaust. Rapaport's TOOLKIT combines anoriginal reflection on the theoretical act at large with apedagogically useful and reliable synthesis of the enormousdiversity of literary theories over the past century." Ned Lukacher, University of Illinois at Chicago

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