- Hardcover: 1008 pages
- Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press; 2nd edition (November 3, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0801880106
- ISBN-13: 978-0801880100
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 2.3 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #381,915 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism 2nd Edition
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From Library Journal
This self-defensively "postmodern" guide provides 226 essay-length overviews of critics, schools, movements, and national and ethnic groups important to the study of literary theory and criticism. The descriptive entries, which include a primary and secondary bibliography and an abundance of cross references that facilitate exploration, are authoritative and well written. The entries in Hugh Holman's Handbook to Literature (Macmillan, 1992. 6th ed.) are both much shorter and more accessible, but individual critics are not included. Magill's Critical Survey of Poetry (Salem Pr., 1992. rev. ed.), on the other hand, gives critical analyses of poets but deals only briefly with terms and concepts. By covering terms and critics, this guide does the work of both sources, filling a niche for scholars and graduate students in literature and related fields.
- Peter Dollard, Alma Coll. Lib., Mich.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
With coverage ranging from Plato and Aristotle to Richard Rorty and Edward Said, this work is an overview of major landmarks of criticism from classical antiquity to the present day. Included, in addition to literary critics, are theorists whose affiliation or discipline is not primarily literary studies: philosophers, political theorists, anthropologists, psychologists, and psychiatrists. For example, an essay on Hegel appears between those on Hazlitt and Heidegger. The editors state that they shortened the entries on twentieth-century critics in an effort to entice the reader into making selective sorties into earlier entries, earlier in the historical sense. In addition to those figures who have affected literary theory and criticism, the work includes important groups, schools, and movements; major national or ethnic schools of criticism; and theoretical innovations of specific countries and historical periods. The 226 entries are arranged alphabetically so that such entries as Caribbean Theory and Criticism, Chicago Critics, Chinese Theory and Criticism, and Chomsky, Noam appear in that order. Entries on Arabic, African, biblical, feminist, gay, Indian, psychoanalytic, and Russian criticism are joined by essays on film theory, cultural studies, hermeneutics, postmodernism, and stylistics.
Each contribution is signed. The authors are literary scholars from leading universities throughout the U.S. and Canada with a few from institutions in other countries. Each entry is followed by at least one bibliography; most have two, a primary and a secondary one. Ample cross-references are noted within entries in small-capital letters. Related references appear at the end of each entry. Quotations are signaled by parenthetical page numbers that refer to works in the bibliographies. The appended material includes a list of contributors with academic affiliations, an index of names, and an index of topics.
Histories and anthologies of literary theory and criticism abound, but there are few encyclopedic works that treat critics, schools, and movements in a reference format. This more scholarly work complements Gale's Contemporary Literary Critics, which gives biobibliographic information about modern critics but treats no schools or movements. Another recent work, the Encyclopedia of Contemporary Literary Theory: Approaches, Scholars, Terms (Univ. of Toronto, 1993), also emphasizes contemporary themes. The Johns Hopkins Guide is an excellent overview with a wider time frame. Academic libraries with strong literature programs, especially graduate programs, will want to own it. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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As an example of how substantial and "chewy" these essays can be, I'll quote from the entry on the Frankfurt School (written for the first edition by Vincent P. Pecora, who begins a discussion of "five motifs running through critical theory" in this way):
"(The first motif) was the reinterpretation of Marxian social science in light of the growing discrepancies between dialectical materialism as theory and as practice. This meant the rejection of any simple totalization of history, of more mechanical relations of reflection between cultural superstructure and economic base, and of the proletariat as the necessary subject-object of historical progress (see especially the early Horkheimer and Pollock here). While class struggle was never denied, it lost its place of centrality amid the larger pressures of monopolization and rationalization. Such a perspective also entailed arguments, such as those between Pollock and Neumann in the 1940s, over the specific relation of capitalism to Nazism..."
This excerpt doesn't reflect either a general writing style or opacity of content for the Guide as a whole, but it's a fair sample of what the editorial approach elicits: The aim is not only (and sometimes not at all) to provide a basic or "entry-to-topic" level of information, but to present short, expert essays by specialists on those topics--and in many cases, all but the most well-informed reader may strain to follow discussions that presume a sophisticated level of prior acquaintance and knowledge.
I'll also note that non-expert users of this reference should almost always find valuable background, context, and information on significant issues and controversies related to the individual critics, movements, epochs, and topics discussed. But such users will probably also want to have access to more basic guides and introductions to terms and topics as they explore the Hopkins essays.
As one other reviewer notes, this is a reference that will reward its owner for many years, and that thought is borne out by the fact that 10 years elapsed between the first and second editions--an indication of the Guide's scholarly approach and intended shelf life among its academic users.
I bought it which is my highest rec.