Theory's Empire

An Anthology of Dissent

Edited by Daphne Patai and Wilfrido Corral

Columbia University Press

Theory's Empire

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Pub Date: April 2005

ISBN: 9780231134170

736 Pages

Format: Paperback

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Pub Date: April 2005

ISBN: 9780231134163

736 Pages

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List Price: $105.00£81.00

Pub Date: April 2005

ISBN: 9780231508698

736 Pages

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Theory's Empire

An Anthology of Dissent

Edited by Daphne Patai and Wilfrido Corral

Columbia University Press

Not too long ago, literary theorists were writing about the death of the novel and the death of the author; today many are talking about the death of Theory. Theory, as the many theoretical ism's (among them postcolonialism, postmodernism, and New Historicism) are now known, once seemed so exciting but has become ossified and insular. This iconoclastic collection is an excellent companion to current anthologies of literary theory, which have embraced an uncritical stance toward Theory and its practitioners. Written by nearly fifty prominent scholars, the essays in Theory's Empire question the ideas, catchphrases, and excesses that have let Theory congeal into a predictable orthodoxy. More than just a critique, however, this collection provides readers with effective tools to redeem the study of literature, restore reason to our intellectual life, and redefine the role and place of Theory in the academy.
This is a splendid anthology that evaluates, puts into perspective and thoughtfully criticizes contemporary literary and cultural theory. A welcome alternative to dogmatic thought, this book is designed to generate a lively debate. A must for every serious student of literature and culture. Thomas Pavel, University of Chicago, author of The Spell of Language: Poststructuralism and Speculation
Patai and Corral's Theory's Empire represents the invigorating leading edge of a new diversity of thought in the academy, the vision of a healthy skeptical approach to what has become theoretical orthodoxy and dogmatism. Jon Erickson, Ohio State University, author of The Fate of the Object: From Modern Object to Postmodern Sign
If you never quite believed that thought is the same as action, that fact is irrelevant, that declaration amounts to proof, or that cultures rather than individuals compose works of art, you will discover in Theory's Empire why you are neither deluded nor delusional. Theories may help scholarship seem relevant, but they are no substitute for empirical evidence, logical argument, and plain old common sense. Mary Lefkowitz, Wellesley College, author of Not Out Of Africa: How Afrocentrism Became AnExcuse To Teach Myth As History.
Superb introductions, guaranteed to stir every reader dejected by deconstruction. Library Journal
Clearly, this is not your father's textbook; it's closer to The Norton Anthology of Screw-the Academy Michael Potemra, National Review
A sign that things may be changing...its 47 contributors patiently dissect all aspects of theory. James Seaton, Wall Street Journal
Theory's Empire is important because it shows that the opposition to theory is not just the preserve of intellectual lightweights. William Pannapacker, Chronicle of Higher Education
This is a valuable book for scholars and for those encountering literary theory for the first time... Recommended. Choice
Theory's Empire is a unique documentation of an intellectual deformation that still affects the way literature is studied. Brian Vickers, A 2005 Book of the Year, Times Literary Supplement
Patai and Corral waste no time and pull no punches. Michael Berube, Common Review
Theory's Empire offers a powerful retrospective on the rise of "Theory" in the American academy. Sara Castro-Klaren, Modern Language Notes
Part I. Theory Rising
Introduction
1. Theory, What Theory?, by Valentine Cunningham
2. Destroying Literary Studies, by Rene Wellek
3. Traveling Through American Criticism, by Tzvetan Todorov
4. The Rise and Fall of "Practical Criticism": From I. A. Richards to Barthes and Derrida, by Morris Dickstein
5. The Power and Limits of Literary Theory, by Richard Freadman and Seumas Miller
6. Is Theory to Blame?, by John M. Ellis
7. Theory, Theories, and Principles, by Denis Donoghue
Part II. Linguistic Turns
Introduction
8. The Linguistic Unconscious: Saussure and the Post-Saussureans, by Raymond Tallis
9. Literary Theory and Its Discontents, by John R. Searle
10. The Quandaries of the Referent, by Vincent Descombes
11. The Great Dichotomy, by Wendell V. Harris
12. The Deconstructive Angel, by M. H. Abrams
Part III. Empire Building
Introduction
13. The Grand Academy of Theory, by Frederick Crews
14. Theorrhea and Kulturkritik, by J. G. Merquior
15. Masters and Demons, by Brian Vickers
16. The Debate Over the Wartime Writings of Paul de Man: The Language of Setting the Record Straight, by Alan B. Spitzer
17. Presentism: Postmodernism, Poststructuralism, Postcolonialism, by Graham Good
18. Preface for a Post-Postcolonial Criticism, by Erin O'Connor
Part IV. Theory as a Profession
Introduction
19. Author! Author! Reconstructing Roland Barthes, by Clara Claiborne Park
20. The French Intellectual Habitus and Literary Culture, by Niilo Kauppi
21. Social Constructionism: Philosophy for the Academic Workplace, by Mark Bauerlein
22. Bad Writing, by D. G. Myers
23. Everyman an ‹bermensch: The Culture of Cultural Studies, by Stephen Adam Schwartz
24. The End of Theory, the Rise of the Profession: A Rant in Search of Responses, by Geoffrey Galt Harpham
Part V. Identities
Introduction
25. The Cant of Identity, by Todd Gitlin
26. The Gender Fallacy, by William C. Dowling
27. Feminism's Perverse Effects, by Elaine Marks
28. Queer Theory, Literature, and the Sexualization of Everything: The Gay Science, by Lee Siegel
29. Battle of the Bien-Pensant, by K. Anthony Appiah
Part VI. Theory as Surrogate Politics
Introduction
30. Oppositional Opposition, by Harold Fromm
31. Silence Is Consent, or Curse Ye Meroz!, by Richard Levin
32. Criticism as Displacement, by Jeffrey Wallen
33. Thick Aestheticism and Thin Nativism, by Russell Jacoby
34. Casualties of the Culture Wars, by Eugene Goodheart
Part VII. Restoring Reason
Introduction
35. Rationality/Science, by Noam Chomsky
36. The Furor Over Impostures Intellectuelles: What Is All the Fuss About?, by Jean Bricmont and Alan Sokal
37. The Sleep of Reason, by Thomas Nagel
38. Staying for an Answer: The Untidy Process of Groping for Truth, by Susan Haack
39. What Is Social Construction?, by Paul A. Boghossian
40. Postcolonial Science Studies: Ending "Epistemic Violence", by Meera Nanda
Part VIII. Still Reading After All These Theories...
Introduction
41. Literature and Theory: Notes on the Research Programs of the 1980s, by David Bromwich
42. Changing Epochs, by Frank Kermode
43. Making Knowledge: Bioepistemology and the Foundations of Literary Theory, by Nancy Easterlin
44. Literature and Fiction, by Peter Lamarque and Stein Haugom Olsen
45. Literary Aesthetics and the Aims of Criticism, by Paisley Livingston
46. Crisis in the Humanities? Reconfiguring Literary Study for the Twenty-first Century, by Marjorie Perloff
Coda
Introduction
47. A Hippocratic Oath for the Pluralist, by Wayne C. Booth

About the Author

Daphne Patai is professor of Brazilian literature and literary theory at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is the author of a number of books on literature, utopian studies, and the culture wars, most recently Professing Feminism: Education and Indoctrination in Women's Studies, Revised Edition (with Noretta Koertge).

Will H. Corral teaches Spanish American literature and culture at California State University, Sacramento. He is the author or editor of several books in Spanish, the most recent of which is El error del acierto (contra ciertos dogmas latinoamericanistas); he lives in Davis, California.