Introducing Critical Theory: A Graphic Guide
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The last few decades have seen an explosion in the production of critical theories, with deconstructionists, poststructuralists, postmodernists, second-wave feminists, new historicists, cultural materialists, postcolonialists, black critics and queer theorists, among a host of others, all vying for our attention. The world around us can look very different on the critical theory applied to it. This vast range of interpretations can leave one feeling confused and frustrated. This book provides a route through the tangled jungle of competing theories.
latestattemptto eliminate difference fromthe world. Computers - unlike human beings - are entirely predictable and controllable and not much given to revolution against the authorities either! Strangely enough, however, certain feminist theorists - most notably Donna Haraway (b. 1944) and Sadie Plant ' (b. 1964) - have welcomed the new technologyas a means of redrawing the gender map and breaking the pattem of male superiority in our culture. o o o o o ·,II!'ill'f "I'd rather be a 0 ~ll;!
theorist Charles Jencks (b. 1939), who provocatively argued that modemism died at the precisetime that an award-winning example of modernist architecture, the Pruitt-Igoe housing complex in St Louis, Missouri (a fairly typical "new brutallsr' project of tower blocks), was demolished. The Double-Coding of Postmodernism Jencks is a notablecritic of this modernist new brutalism who claimsthat architecture should be able to work on several levelssimultaneously, appealing to the generalpublic no
"spectre" we cannot expelfrom our consciousness or our culture. His legacycontinues to hold important lessonsfor us. Derridaarguesthat there will be "no future withoutMarx" . .. the multinationals are verY much in control. Political oppression is still rifetoo. ~. Its continued existence callsfor.principled resistance from the left,just as it did in Marx's day. 127 A Plural Marx . 1 But this is to be a much looserformation than the Communist parties of old. • Derridadismissesall the
leading American new historicistcritic Stephen Greenblatt (b. 1937), with his books Renaissance Self-Fashioning (1980) and Shakespearean Negotiations (1988), influenced the development of critical .theory in the AngloAmerican world. Greenblatt'swork on Renaissance literatureemphasizes that such material is caught up in the power strugglesof its time. A much-imitated aspect of Greenblatt's analytical method is the juxtaposition of literaryand non-literary texts in order to exposethe power
from the catalogue of theories to put together synthetic models for whatever the task may happen to be. Except for the most committed enthusiasts of particular movements, most critics tend to operate in magpie fashion these days, selecting a bit of this theory and a bit of that for their own personalized approach. ~----------- ~ Bringing Theory to the Surface To be a critic now, especially in academic life, is also to be a theorist- as any studentin the humanities and socialsciences will be