Tag Archives: critical theory

The Death of the Author (Roland Barthes)

“In his story Sarrasine Balzac, describing a castrate disguised as a woman, writes the following sentence: “This was woman herself, with her sudden fears, her irrational whims, her instinctive worries, her impetuous boldness, her fussings, and her delicious sensibility.” Who is speaking thus? Is it the hero of the story bent on remaining ignorant of the castrato hidden beneath the woman? Is it Balzac the individual, furnished by his personal experience with a philosophy of Woman? Is it Balzac the author professing “literary” ideas on femininity? Is it universal wisdom? Romantic psychology? We shall never know, for the good reason that writing is the destruction of every voice, of every point of origin. Writing is that neutral, composite, oblique space where our subject slips away; the negative where all identity is lost, starting with the very identity of the body writing.” (excerpt)

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Mythologies (Roland Barthes)

mythbarthes“This book has a double theoretical framework: on the one hand, an ideological critique bearing on the language of so-called mass culture; on the other, a first attempt to analyse semiologically the mechanics of this language. I had just read Saussure and as a result acquired the conviction that by treating ‘collective representations’ as sign-systems, one might hope to go further than the pious show of unmasking them and account in detail for the mystification which transforms petit-bourgeois culture into a universal nature.” (Preface)

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Aesthetics and Politics (Theodor Adorno, et al.)

“It is not only political history which those who ignore are condemned to repeat. A host of recent ‘post-Marxisms’ document the truth of the assertion that attempts to ‘go beyond’ Marxism typically end by reinventing older pre-Marxist positions (from the recurrent neo-Kantian revivals, to the most recent ‘Nietzschean’ returns through Hume and Hobbes all the way back to the Pre-Socratics). Even within Marxism itself, the terms of the problems, if not their solutions, are numbered in advance, and the older controversies – Marx versus Bakunin, Lenin versus Luxemburg, the national question, the agrarian question, the dictatorship of the proletariat – rise up to haunt those who thought we could now go on to something else and leave the past behind us.” (from Fredric Jameson’s “Reflections in Conclusion”)

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Literary Theory: An Introduction (Terry Eagleton)

eagleton-literary-theory-cvr“This book sets out to provide a reasonably comprehensive account of modern literary theory for those with little or no previous knowledge of the topic. Though such a project obviously involves omissions and oversimplifications, I have tried to popularize, rather than vulgarize, the subject. Since there is in my opinion no ‘neutral’, value-free way of presenting it, I have argued throughout a particular case, which I hope adds to the book’s interest.” (from the book’s Preface
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