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Literary Theory: An Anthology, 2nd Edition 2nd Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1405106962
ISBN-10: 1405106964
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Rivkin (Connecticut Coll.) and Ryan (Northeastern Univ.) have designed this anthology for courses in literary theory at the graduate or at best advanced undergraduate level. Its title suggests a much more comprehensive scope than is in fact the case. There is no Aristotle here, no Sir Phillip Sidney, no Matthew Arnold. Instead, this anthology aims to include only contemporary literary theory, which means that the earliest pieces date back only to the 1920s, and many of the essays were written within the past decade. Attempting to include texts that are not commonly available, it also embraces the "heterodox and newly canonical" to provide students with a broad range of current viewpoints. The 100-plus essays and essay excerpts are grouped into ten categories, such as "Marxism," "Feminism," and "Gender Studies," with most of the introductory essays in each section written by the editors themselves. There is also a fine index. Despite a multiplicity of such anthologies, this one seems to live up to its claim that it is the most comprehensive one available. The list of essays included is available at Blackwell's website .APeter A. Dollard, Alma Coll. Lib., Mt. Pleasant, MI
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

Literary Theory: An Anthology is a definitive collection of classic statements in criticism and new theoretical work from the past few decades. It is an invaluable resource for students who wish to familiarise themselves with the most recent developments in literary theory and with the traditions from which these new theories derive. The Anthology represents all the major schools and methods that make up the dynamic field of literary theory. For the second edition, the content has been thoroughly revised and updated to include the most recent influential texts. Changes for the new edition include: More material has been added on race theory, ethnic studies, colonial and postcolonial studies and intemational studies, including texts by Frantz Fanon, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Edward Said and Homi Bhabha A new section on rhetoric, phenomenology and reader response theory has been added, featuring texts by Husserl, Kant, Stanley Fish and others The section on structuralism now includes three new pieces, including an extract from Barthes' Mythologies The section on post-structuralism, deconstruction and post-modernism now includes extracts from Derrida's Of Grammatology and his `Semiology and Grammatology', as well as texts by Cixous and Baudrillard The material on historicism has been completely revised and now includes work by Raymond Williams, Michel Foucault and Stephen Greenblatt A recent piece on rap music by Adam Krims has been added to the cultural studies section.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1336 pages
  • Publisher: Blackwell; 2nd edition (2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405106964
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405106962
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 2 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,155 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Alfred E. Guy Jr. on April 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
With all apologies to Alan Lopez, I have never seen a better anthology of literary theory. I am a college faculty member, one who teaches primarily first-year students. I use literary theory in both literature and writing classes, and there is just no other book with the range of selections in this one, and no other book with such sensible, helpful introductions. Certainly there is jargon, in both the selections and in the introductions, but to simplify the texts any more would be to replace reading them with reading "Foucault for Beginners." "Foucault for Beginners" is a fun book, and even useful, but it is not an anthology of primary theory texts. I cannot recommend this book strongly enough to people who want to have selections of a workable length (neither too long to swamp you, nor too short to be unrepresentative of the original authors' projects). If you are thinking about buying this book, that means you are interested in theory. If you are interested in theory, buy this book. If you teach theory, order this book. My only hesitation about requiring this for undergraduates is the price, which is a little hefty unless you are going to be sure to use a decent size chunk of the text.
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Format: Paperback
The strengths and weaknesses of this anthology have been thorougly hashed out by other reviewers, (particularly alopez02 & onela22) & my view of the text falls somewhere in between their 2 opinions. BUT, I would recommend _The Norton Anthology of Theory & Criticism_ (5 stars) over Rivkin/Ryan if you have to choose only 1 anthology: pound for pound--& I mean this literally, they both weigh in on the heavy end of the scale ;>) --you'll get more bang for your buck with the Norton's (though I own both and find it handy to use them in conjunction, 1 tome often contains different selections than the other). The Norton's contains a far more comprehensive survey extending from the classics (Plato, Horace, Aristotle, et al) to the latest postmodern theorists (Derrida, Kristeva, etc.) & hence gives a good overview not only of the individual theories themselves, but also of the development of Western critical theory.
The difficulty with any anthology, & particularly an anthology of lit crit, is there's simply too much material out there to cover in depth in 1 tome. So keep this in mind & remember that the anthology's a jumping off point for further literary study (Norton's has excellent exhaustive bibliographies on each writer included). Use it to find scholars whose theories intrigue you and then go to the source of the material to get their theories whole cloth.
Best of luck!
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Format: Paperback
I found Rivkin's anthology to be comprehensive in terms of the variety of schools of thought covered. I bought it for a class, and my single complaint about the book and the class is the same: I feel that I'm not getting a full and comprehensive understanding of each individual theorist's work. But I suppose if I were a more dedicated scholar, I'd just read each theorist's complete works on my own instead of buying an introduction to critical theory. So, if you would like a deep understanding of a few individual theorists, this is not the book for you. But if you are looking to get an overview with many important details of the recent history (i.e. the last 100 years) of critical theory, I would highly recommend this book.
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Format: Paperback
It is no easy task to cover the full spectrum of modern critical theory and do so in a comprehensive and lucid fashion. In LITERARY THEORY: AN ANTHOLOGY, Rivkin and Ryan have succeeded admirably in fashioning a text that when combined with the similar NORTON ANTHOLOGY OF THEORY AND CRITICISM ought to review key areas that one might merely gloss over while the other is more detailed. There is much to like with Rivkin and Ryan's anthology. Both understand that critical theory is dense under the best of circumstances, but when even this denseness is presented in a logical manner, much of its abstruseness evaporates. First, I like how they organize the book into clear divisions based on literary school of thought, each of which begins with a perceptive introduction that is geared toward the typical undergraduate who though bright is unaware of the many tricky byways that afflict so much of theory. These introductions lead gracefully into the various essays by writers of that school. The Norton has its introductions too but its editors place them at the beginning of their text, thus making it cumbersome to flick back and forth to see how one theorist connects to his paradigmatic theory.

In judging any anthology, one looks at what was excluded, what was included, and what was covered in that inclusion. It is only too easy for me to second guess why Rivkin and Ryan left out theorists that I consider key (like Tzevetan Todorov and Northrup Frye) and inserted those whom I see as of a lesser rank (like Margaret Mahler, Sidney Blatt, and John Fiske) but theory is broad enough for me to welcome anyone who has anything germane to add to a literary stage that is not so overcrowded that there is no more room.
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