This iconoclastic collection is an excellent companion to current anthologies of literary theory, which have embraced an uncritical stance toward Theory and its practitioners. Written by nearly fifty prominent scholars, the essays in Theory's Empire question the ideas, catchphrases, and excesses that have let Theory congeal into a predictable orthodoxy. More than just a critique, however, this collection provides readers with effective tools to redeem the study of literature, restore reason to our intellectual life, and redefine the role and place of Theory in the academy.
In this anthology, the term Theory is shorthand for any of the many theories of literary interpretation that arose in the latter 20th century and that now "matter more than the literature it once interpreted." Patai (Brazilian literature & literary theory, Univ. of Massachusetts) and Corral (Spanish American literature, California State Univ., Sacramento) intend this work as a shot across the bow of The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, which codified the "textual harassment" that passes for current literary criticism. With articles not included in the Norton volume and a few of more recent vintage, this "back to basics" anthology traces the rise of Theory, how it negates literary meaning, and how the overthrow of its autocratic hold on literary scholarship might begin. Although most of the signed articles are available in journals, this is worth having just for its superb introductions, guaranteed to stir every reader dejected by deconstructionism. Although a tad pricey, this is recommended for general and specialized collections and as a supplement to textbooks and reading lists.-Shelley Cox, emerita, Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.