Need a refresher about literary theory? The following web sites provide short descriptions of literary theories, tips for applying the theory to a work, and additional resourses you may wish to consult.
A full-text searchable database of articles on individual critics and theorists, critical and theoretical schools and movements, and the critical and theoretical innovations of specific countries and historical periods.
What is literary theory? Is there a relationship between literature and culture? These are some of questions addressed by Jonathan Culler in this new edition of his highly popular Very Short Introduction. Culler, an extremely lucid commentator and much admired in the field of literary theory, uses easy-to-grasp examples as he outlines the ideas behind schools of criticism that can otherwise be quite daunting, such as deconstruction, semiotics, and postcolonial theory. He explains "theory" not by describing warring "schools" but by sketching key "moves" that theory has encouraged, and by speaking directly about the implications of theory for thinking about literature, human identity, and the power of language.
"Richard Harland provides a lucid account of all the major movements in literary theory up to the late 1960s. In a lucid and accessible style, he unfolds a comprehensive "story" of literary theory in all its manifestations. Because contemporary literary theory depends heavily upon European thinkers, the book has an international focus, and its coverage extends from philosophers to social theorists to linguists."
"Beginning in the 1920s, the book looks at the impact of the periods preceding the ‘theory movement’ and reintroduces this movement from a contemporary perspective. Engaging the reader in questions about the origin, reception and analysis of literary theory, Ayers explores how and why popular criticisms developed, and considers their futures."
"Provides an advanced introduction to literary theory from basic information and orientation for the uninformed leading on to more sophisticated readings. It engages directly with the difficulty many students find intimidating, asking 'What is ''Literary Theory''?' and offering a clear, concise, accessible guide to the major theories and theorists, including: humanism; structuralism; poststructuralism; psychoanalytic approaches; feminist approaches; queer theory; ideology and discourse; new historicism; race and postcolonialism; postmodernism."