Literary Theory

Loving Literature: A Cultural History
Deidre Shauna Lynch

(2015). Of the many charges laid against contemporary literary scholars, one of the most common—and perhaps the most wounding—is that they simply don’t love books. And while the most obvious response is that, no, actually the profession of literary studies does acknowledge and address personal attachments to literature, that answer risks obscuring a more fundamental question: Why should they?

The Drama of Ideas
Martin Puchner

(2010). Most philosophy has rejected the theater, denouncing it as a place of illusion or moral decay; the theater in turn has rejected philosophy, insisting that drama deals in actions, not ideas. Challenging both views, The Drama of Ideas shows that theater and philosophy have been crucially intertwined from the start.

The Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Reader
Henry Louis Gates, Jr

(2012). From his earliest work of literary-historical excavation in 1982, through his current writings on the history and science of African American genealogy, the essays collected here follow his path as historian, theorist, canon-builder, and cultural critic, revealing a thinker of uncommon breadth whose work is uniformly guided by the drive to uncover and restore a history that has for too long been buried and denied.

The Vehement Passions
Philip Fisher

(2002). From Aristotle to contemporary biology, Fisher finds evidence that the passions have defined a core of human nature no less important than reason or desire. Traversing the Iliad, King Lear, Moby Dick, and other great works, he discerns the properties of the high-spirited states we call the passions. In reintroducing us to our own vehemence, Fisher reminds us that it is only through our strongest passions that we feel the contours of injustice, mortality, loss, and knowledge.

The Location of Culture
Homi K. Bhabha

(1994). Rethinking questions of identity, social agency and national affiliation, Bhabha provides a working, if controversial, theory of cultural. In The Location of Culture, he uses concepts such as mimicry, interstice, hybridity, and liminality to argue that cultural production is always most productive where it is most ambivalent.

How Fiction Works
James Wood

(2009). The book asks “some of the essential questions about the art of fiction. Is realism real? How do we define a successful metaphor? What is character? When do we recognize a brilliant use of detail in fiction? What is point of view, and how does it work? What is imaginative sympathy? Why does fiction move us?

The Anthology and the Rise of the Novel: From Richardson to George Eliot
Leah Price

(2003). The Anthology and the Rise of the Novel brings together two traditionally antagonistic fields, book history and narrative theory, to challenge established theories of “the rise of the novel.” Covering British novelists from Richardson to George Eliot, this study asks why the epistolary novel disappeared, how the book review emerged, and how editors’ reproduction of old texts has shaped authors’ production of new ones.