Department of English, College of LAS, University of Illinois


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Welcome to the Department of English blog.



My name is Vicki Mahaffey and I took over as
head of the department on July 1, 2016. I'll be using this site to post updates and information of interest to our faculty, students, and alumni,
along with reflections about our discipline(s) in particular and the humanities in general. As anyone who has ever worked or studied here knows, the Department of English is a vibrant place. If you have something you'd like to see posted here, or if you want to contact me about the content of this blog, drop me an email at vmahaffe@illinois.edu.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Critical Theory Reader


I was happy, earlier today, to see a copy of Robert Dale Parker's newly-printed collection Critical Theory: A Reader for Literary and Cultural Studies (Oxford University Press). Looks like a great collection (including, among a great wealth of exemplary theoretical writing, an essay by the great Susan Koshy). This is a book intended for classroom use in theory classes, and so it is possibly a companion to Parker's How to Interpret Literature: Critical Theory for Literary and Cultural Studies (OUP, second edition in July 2011).


Here is the book description, pasted in as is my wont: "A wide-ranging and refreshingly up-to-date anthology of primary readings, Critical Theory: A Reader for Literary and Cultural Studies, edited by Robert Dale Parker, presents a provocative mix of contemporary and classic essays in critical theory.

From the foundational ideas of Marx and Freud to key writings by Fanon and Foucault, the essays in this collection represent the most influential ideas in modern critical thought and in the contemporary interpretation of literature and culture.

Ideal as a stand-alone reader or as a companion to a critical theory survey--including How to Interpret Literature: Critical Theory for Literary and Cultural Studies, also by Robert Dale Parker--this collection of seminal readings invites students to join in the ongoing debates and controversies of critical discussion, reading, writing, and interpretation.

DISTINCTIVE FEATURES
* Provides a comprehensive selection of key works that speak to students' needs and interests without overwhelming them with too many selections
* Offers clear, brief, and engaging headnotes at the beginning of each selection that place the essay in context (i.e., what the essay responds to or what responds to it) and elucidate its key arguments
* Includes key pieces from cultural studies critics not always well known in literary studies, including selections on youth culture by Dick Hebdige, Angela McRobbie, and Tricia Rose
* Provides a glossary of critical terms, giving students a quick and reliable in-text resource
* Covers a variety of theoretical schools--from New Criticism, Structuralism, and Deconstruction to Feminism, Queer Studies, and Postcolonial and Race Studies--weaving connections among chapters to show how these different movements respond to and build on each other
* Organizes selections by theoretical school, unfolding chronologically and matching the organization of Parker's popular How to Interpret Literature
* Features "see also" recommendations that connect different essays and critical movements from across the volume."

Congrats, Bob! I find I can hardly keep up with your pace of publication these days.

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