By Widdowson / Brooker
A vintage advent to the ever-evolving box of recent literary thought, now in an improved and up to date edition.Considers 'New Aestheticism' and engages with the tips of 'Post-Theory' comprises huge publications to additional examining, net and digital assets to make sure the standard of scholars' examine A word list defines key theoretical and important phrases features a consultant to correct journals
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Extra info for A Reader's Guide to Contemporary Literary Theory (5th Edition)
Jonathan Culler summed up the general theme neatly when he wrote: ‘To assimilate or interpret something is to bring it within the modes of order which culture makes available, and this is usually done by talking about it in a mode of discourse which a culture takes as natural’ (1975: see ‘Key texts’ for Chapter 4). Human beings are endlessly inventive in finding ways of making sense of the most random or chaotic utterances or inscriptions. We refuse to allow a text to remain alien and outside our frames of reference; we insist on ‘naturalizing’ it, and effacing its textuality.
Ideology is not separable from its medium – language. As Voloshinov put it, ‘consciousness itself can arise and become a viable fact only in the material embodiment of signs’. Language, a socially constructed sign-system, is itself a material reality. The Bakhtin School was not interested in abstract linguistics of the kind which later formed the basis of structuralism. They were concerned with language or discourse as a social phenomenon. Voloshinov’s central insight was that ‘words’ are active, dynamic social signs, capable of taking on different meanings and connotations for different social classes in different social and historical situations.
The first Russian Formalists on the other hand considered that human ‘content’ (emotions, ideas and ‘reality’ in general) possessed no literary significance in itself, but merely provided a context for the functioning of literary ‘devices’. As we shall see, this sharp division of form and content was modified by the later Formalists, but it remains true that the Formalists avoided the New Critics’ tendency to endow aesthetic form with moral and cultural significance. qxd 07/02/2005 14:43 Page 30 .