Page Organization

literary theoryAs far as is possible with literary theory, this section is organized logically:


Theory: Need for theory:arguments for and against: practical benefits: this page



So large and perhaps intimidating a section may need a few words of explanation. Some readers will find it hard going, and more will wonder why it's necessary.

First it should be said that theory has definite limits. English departments and writing schools generally provide their students with a theoretical background to their future labours. But once exams are over, most students happily dispense with theory and take to the practical application of what has been taught them, i.e. in the craft that will earn them standing in their community and a modest (usually very modest) income. Good writers are intuitive creatures, and they come to know instinctively when something has to be recast, shortened or bolstered with argument. Theory is there to help them should they need it, but its wider reaches and philosophical implications are not generally of interest.

Theory does not deal with absolutes but with possibilities, speculations, elusive chains of thought. Those who write "now Derrida has shown that. . . or "with our better understanding of post-colonial issues. . . " are laying claim to what does not exist. These are philosophical positions, with insights and modes of argument. It is perfectly possible to believe that the senses consistently deceive us, for example, and to argue that this world is a delusion. And that position, respectable and with a long history behind it, brings certain consequences that philosophy explores. But the issues remain speculative, and expounding Berkley's theories to the magistrate's bench will not get us off a speeding fine. Much in life is conducted by shared values, tacit assumptions, unsupported codes of behaviour, and these are only dug up and examined when the unexpected happens.

But today much is being questioned, particularly in the arts of the avant garde: poetry, visual arts, music. The more progressive arts wish to be challenging and experimental and free to represent the world in their own way. Sometimes their explorations are guided by theory, or by deductions from current theory, but more usually the theory acts in a consulting or supporting role. To explain themselves, obtain employment and get their work sold, their protagonists extract what they can from notions and fashionable opinions that float round the art world. The result may be a patchwork of inconsistent ideas imperfectly understood, but critics, gallery owners and writers of concert notes ask for these viewpoints, and artists find it comforting to have them.

Many twentieth-century poetry movements boil down to very dubious notions, as they have over the centuries. Poets issue statements which are vague, wildly inconsistent and hardly followed through. Manifestos urge crusades to claim aesthetic new ground, which exists only through their own misunderstandings. Critics announce new associations of poets, who themselves deny such a movement exists. More vexing still is radical theory. Even if largely a tangled mass of assertions and misunderstandings of technicalities, it is still necessary reading. For all its deficiencies, theory can focus attention on what writers should be trying to do, act as a prophylactic against the false and stultifying, and open up disciplines that support writing and are fascinating in their own right. These pages, simple introductions as they are, may help readers choose what areas of thought are worth pursuing.

A Correct Theory?

Is there now a generally correct theory of literature? No. Is there a body of thought that is broadly accepted? Far from it: the scene is a battlefield of opinions and assertions, with little supporting thought or experiment.

What then? First we shall find in this section that matters are not much better in other disciplines, though the battle is more discretely conducted. And second we should note the particular value of literature, which is so often lost sight of. Logic and mathematics seem more worthy contenders for truth, and science is more practical. But by investigating the alternatives, meeting them on their own ground, we find that logic and science have enormous shortcomings. Both work towards abstraction, but cannot find a bedrock for their beliefs. There are many types of logic and mathematics, and each is not wholly compatible with others. Science in the end comes down to procedures which long experience has found to work.

The arts have a different conception of truth, and aim at fullness and fidelity to human experience. By a twist of fate, science itself — through complexity theory, research in brain functioning, and in some aspects of linguistics — is now suggesting that poetry's view is not simply a viable alternative, but in some ways closer to how human beings really function.

Worth Pursuing?

What should also be obvious, but is perhaps worth stressing, is that literature is not built on or even assessed by theory. It is all too easy to justify an atrocious piece of writing by selective appeal to abstruse matters. Literary theory explores and attempts to evaluate the bases of criticism, but literary criticism itself is a practical activity carried out in a community of interests. Ability comes with experience, by reading and thinking on a wide range of material, literature and criticism. And most particularly by writing ourselves, even if it's only notes, thumbnail sketches, or letters to friends. For those who do wish to press on, I offer below a defence of literary theory for the jobbing poet.

Literary Theory: A Defence

Why bother with theory? Fascinating to academics, but surely not to the professional writer who has a living to earn? But poetry is more a calling than a career. The larger publishing houses subsidize their poetry publications with profits elsewhere: thrillers, gardening and cookery books, textbook updates. Poets support themselves by reviewing, adjudicating, workshops and the odd radio appearance. Poetry is a minority interest, where commercial rules seem hardly to apply. {1}

But surely there are standards? We can learn from the pronouncements of fellow practitioners: scan the reviews in the more literary publications, analyze the essays in academic journals and leading poetry magazines. Of course, and so we should. But poets disagree, a good deal more privately than in print, and there exists not a consensus but a kaleidoscope of unexamined and partisan opinions. Reviewers do what is possible, but the fee doesn't allow more than a cursory reading, and it is usually the shape of their own copy that exercises their minds. Academics generally fight shy of contemporary work. Poetry magazines, then: the record of professional judgement? Sometimes. But in general their editors are ludicrously overworked — with subscriptions to chase, copy to type, hundreds if not thousands of submissions to read between issues. Whatever the claims, space for the unknown poet is limited, and star billing in a top magazine very long odds indeed. {2}

Supply has always exceeded demand in the arts, however, and competition is only a little sharper than the usual dogfights of business and the professions. Wherever we look — Tang China, Republican Rome, Mughal Delhi — we find the literati have promoted and traduced each other in their scramble to the top. Time sorts out reputations, separating the good from the indifferent, and we must remember that if Wang Wei was known throughout China, his greater contemporary Du Fu died destitute and ignored. Literature has always been hard to read, and harder still to assess, and a lifetime's devotion to its intricacies is hardly sufficient to appreciate the better writers in their varied dimensions.

But, you say, but I'm not aspiring to great heights. Something memorable, pleasing and apt is all I intend, just for myself, and my immediate circle of friends. Very well: dispense with theory. Your work will jog along with the great majority, neither original nor necessarily bad. And in the literary world where so much is built on airy hopes and opinions — 75% of US poets never earn anything — there is much to be said for modest realism. {3}

But for those who want to get ahead of the pack? Reviewers play safe, and editors don't write critiques. Workshop conveners do their best, and fellow practitioners are sometimes helpful, but ultimately the judgements will be yours. Only you know, more or less, what you intended. Poems start in odd phrases, an image, a tune in the head, a deeply incoherent pain. How these develop is the poetry. There is nothing difficult in stringing words together, not the backbreaking labour of novel-writing, or the exhaustion of getting actors to stage your play properly. It's in responding to what you have written, feeling it, understanding it, extending its possibilities with imagination, honesty and sensitivity. And that means very fine discriminations. Verbal originality, wide sympathies, generosity of heart and a compassion for the human condition are essential for poetry, but they are nothing without continual exercise and training. Character above all makes an artist, the infinite capacity to be honest and take pains. And those pains constitute criticism, self-criticism, which cannot be evaded. Learn all that you can if you would see your work clearly, with the depth and detachment to understand its effect on others.

Very well: criticism, you say, but not theory. One is practical and is judged on the sense it makes of the poem: how well it explains, illuminates and appraises. The second is aesthetics, a branch of philosophy, an altogether more intellectually strenuously activity. The critic must realize as completely and sensitively as possible whatever is before him on the page. {5} The philosopher aims for generality, consistency and objectivity, drawing his arguments ever tighter to avoid refutation. Even aesthetics, which must serve both masters, finds the combination uncomfortable, and good philosophers are not noticeably good critics, nor the other way round. But unless criticism is content to remain personal preference, an unsupported elaboration of gut feelings, there must be some larger body of understanding, some agreement as to what poetry is and does.

Possibly that understanding will only be secondary to begin with, before analysis feeds through into our responses. Poetry is initially an event, an experience, something arousing delight and approval. We do not conjure up theory as we read or listen. But afterwards we consider, reread, re-enjoy. Theory helps us to map out those responses, think what they amount to. It is surely a common observation that responses are not settled, that appreciation comes slowly, after much effort. Criticism is not a handing down of judgements, but an education in our own responses, of faculties which we need to appraise and extend our own work. And our poems also shift from day to day in our appraisal, until they arrive at what our skills and time cannot materially improve.

But what purpose does theory serve in the immediate present, before we have grown to critical maturity? Perhaps we should call it a book of reference, something resembling those guides to grammar we consult when we're unsure of some expression. Theory will not dissuade us from calling something banal or plodding, but we shall know the grounds of such judgements. And if we reflect further we shall find ourselves asking more searching questions. While everyone wrote in much the same way, as in Augustan England, guiding principles could remain unexamined, but that is not the case today. Widely different views of art and society are canvassed in contemporary literature, and these determine how we respond to what grows increasingly more challenging and specialized.

Radical Theory

Many commentators would disagree. {6} There has been altogether too much theory of late: wildly speculative, politically-motivated, opaque and unhelpful. A bludgeoning style, riddled with non sequiturs and appeals to fashionable gurus, destructive of literature and a good deal else. Perhaps so. Large sections of current literary theory are preposterous, too wrong-headed to be worth untangling by the professional philosopher, an affront to commonsense and practical experience. But the older procedures of marshalling fact and argument were no doubt tainted with the shortcomings of western society, complicit with its cheap intellectualizations, its hypocrisies and technical barbarism. {7} Perhaps the personal and the authentic, what literature has championed down the ages, have been set aside by a rampant materialism. Academic life has been terrorized by crass market forces, literature prostituted, the publishing houses hijacked by lawyers and accountants indifferent to art. {7} Yes, but one weapon remains: language itself. From its obvious imperfections, its ad hoc growth, and the mysteries of its ultimate creation, can be created a belief that meaning is a delusion, a vanity of vanities, a code that ramifies into itself, with no real anchorage on the world or our affections.

Perhaps the English Departments, into which radical criticism irrupted in the late sixties and seventies, were slow to appreciate the hopes and misunderstandings employed. Perhaps they were not trained, these mild-mannered academics, in the linguistics, psychiatry, politics and aesthetics that now seemed necessary, and they found academic colleagues kept quietly to the other side. But that has changed, and battle lines can now be seen zigzagging between contending parties, most particularly in the Internet resources.

But the rest should not blithely ignore the issue. Radical theory rules in many English departments and in countless literary publications. Unless your productions observe current fads they will be rejected. Most certainly it is not sufficient to study the market and adopt the right dress codes. You will be found out, your slumming despised. Your work must positively reek of the right attitudes if it is to pass beneath the gaze of editorial boards. Cynical advice? Remember that to be published regularly calls for a long and coolly thought-out strategy. Poems have to look right. In poet and poem, first appearances count, and go on counting throughout the selection process.

But there is another reason for attending to theory. Poetry is the workshop of language, the most acute and comprehensive way we have of expressing ourselves. And in poetry the medium is words. Prose may employ ready-made phrases — generally has to, given the needs of a busy world — but poetry works at a deeper level. One essential distinction between poetry and prose — and only one: refer to aesthetics for the arguments — lies in the more sustained and elaborate attention paid to its constituent parts. Words for poets have meanings, appropriate uses, associations, connotations, etymologies, histories of use and misuse. They conjure up images, feelings, shadowy depths and glinting surfaces. Their properties are marvellous, endless, not to be guessed at from casual inspection. And each property — meaning, association, weight, colour, duration, shape, texture — changes as words are combined in phrases, rhythms, lines, stanzas and completed poems. Out of these properties the poetry is built, even if the end cannot be entirely foreseen but grows out of the very process of deployment, that continual, two-way dialogue between writer and poem. Radical theory was often wildly incoherent, but it dared to ask what had been overlooked in more traditional approaches. What purpose does language serve? How does it mediate between ourselves and the outside world? What happens when we view language through such disciplines as linguistics, psychiatry, sociology?

The exercise needed doing, {9} even if the radical critics who went shopping to continental philosophy came home with indigestible notions. Continental philosophy can be luminously clear, full of insights and imaginative suggestions, but a long training is needed for sensible use. The radical critics cut corners: concepts were snatched at, names dropped, and the whole wrapped up in a worse-than-academic style. Perhaps they more lost themselves in these dense verbal thickets, but the radical critics were not wrong in their basic intuitions. Language is an important matter, and deserves the writer's continued study. Certainly the radical critics erred in their choice of champions — psychiatry, semiotics, Structuralism, Post-structuralism and Marxism — but the exploration is valuable if conducted properly. Rhetoric, hermeneutics, metaphor theory, depth psychology, brain functioning and cognitive science do give back a key role to writers, though it is one where they must stop playing God, and assume more mundane and human activities.

What these new approaches offer can be seen here. A Summing Up concentrates on the approaches that survive scrutiny. The Criticism sections show the theories in operation. Nonetheless, there remain two traditional, perhaps inveterate, resistances to theory. One argues that literary theory is unnecessary, ineffective, restrictive and reductive. The second contends that theory has done more harm than good to twentieth century literary criticism. To these we now turn.

Theory is Unnecessary

Writing is a craft learnt by emulation and practice. {10} And in the harsh world of commercial publishing, novels, guides, biographies and feature articles make their way on their perceived merits, not on underlying theory. Indeed something showing its stitching can only be maladroit or unfinished.

That does not mean that theory was irrelevant or unhelpful. Theory at its most basic, those practical maxims that writers carry in their heads — maintain the viewpoint, shun cliché, employ the active tense — are applications of the aesthetic demands for pleasing shape and emotive appeal.

No doubt theory has its limits. Five minutes of practical demonstration may be worth an hour of written instructions, and there are many areas of everyday skill — tasting of food, riding a bicycle — where language is particular limited. {11} But that shortcoming is with language rather than with theory, and if theory is no better than the language it employs, it need not be worse.

But theory must nonetheless make sense in its own terms — i.e. must not only explain the "facts" but combine those explanations into a larger, autonomous and self-referencing whole. Of course there are dangers in such a coherence view of truth. But a theory that glibly explained everything would not be theory but a myth. Ideas grow by resistance, by being measured against experience, and there is nothing in the world which is free of assumptions and preconceptions, however much familiarity may persuade us otherwise.

Theory is Ineffectual

But not only is theory unnecessary, it is argued, but ineffectual. See how many theories have gone their way, and yet the giants of literature — Homer, Kalidasa, Du Fu, Rumi, Shakespeare — bask unmolested on the peaks of Parnassus. On the contemporary scene there may be junketings of the literary stockmarket, but the canon of English literature remains largely the same. New techniques and theories may radically change the scientific disciplines — undoubtedly do: witness the electron microscope or plate tectonics — but theory in the arts has no such power.

Is that true? Past writers do not enjoy their reputations regardless, but through the various schools of criticism. The theories were no doubt incomplete but gave novel perspectives and insights, which we inherit. Often a writer's stature was by no means apparent to contemporaries. Success, popularity, giving the age what it demanded — yes, but the public is ever fickle and most writers went through periods of neglect or opprobrium. Appreciation grows as work is read and discussed, and the terminology of that discussion is theory, something additional to the work. We read not to rank but to enjoy, and to understand our own lives a little better. {12} That we do recognize the defining elements in great writing is testimony to our ability to abstract, generalize, derive ideas and concepts — in short to make theories and test them.

Theory is a Diversion

We first strive to understand a poem, then ask ourselves what is good, what is bad, and why. But all too often, in books, journal and magazine articles, a rather circular argument appears. The poem was written by an author of importance. We know that because literary theory has asserted so. Important authors write important poems. We can therefore dispense with evaluative analysis of the poem in question, and simply display our erudition by showing how the poem conforms to certain tenets of contemporary theory. In fact, we'd be wise to dispense with criticism, since Professors X, Y and Z have staked their reputation on the writer's importance, and we shall need the favourable opinion of them, and of the literary community at large, if we are to advance in our academic careers.

Much of that is surely inevitable, and contemporary journals naturally look for contemporary viewpoints. But theories still need to be tested, to prove that do indeed explain properly why we like certain aspects of a poem. We need to see a. that the theory explains our liking better than do other theories, b. that the theory fully explains that liking, and c. that all aspects of the poem's quality are explained by the theory. If the theory fails in these respects, then any decently critical approach requires that we start probing and modifying the theory. Repeated testing, and not appeal to authorities, is what makes theory reliable.

Theory is Reductive

But a more general objection is urged. Theory is pernicious, a generalization from actual works of literature, and therefore reductive. {13} Determine what is common to the very different tragedies of Sophocles, Shakespeare and Racine, and we shall have a very meagre yardstick with which to measure the work of other playwrights. And we shall miss the ways these masters reflected and transcended the genre and expectations of their times.

Of course. But theory is not simple generalization. Newton is not honoured for observing that objects invariably fell to earth but by intuiting and then substantiating his general laws of motion — laws which were far from obvious but which linked and explained the most diverse of phenomena. Traditionally, science is a search for invariable relations and regularities that appear when phenomena are studied by the procedures laid down by the relevant community. Perhaps there is now a realization that the reductive approach works badly for social and biological behaviour. But whatever theories may represent, they operate on a level different from the phenomena they explain, and are subject to different requirements: to coherence, explanatory power, comprehensiveness, simplicity and elegance.

Literature is not science. We do not seek in literary theory the replicable results of scientific experiment, nor expect its clinching predictions. But we do want illumination, a view deeper and more comprehensive than before. And as for definition, which is a separate requirement, the difficulties of precise and unambiguous specification were long ago considered by Wittgenstein's theory of games. If we intuit greatness in Shakespeare, it is literary theory that provides that intuition with its wider habitation and a name. Theory crystallizes, develops and tests that intuition on a broader stage.

Theory is Restrictive

Can we be blinkered by theory, refusing to recognize excellence because current theory supplies no suitable criteria for judgement? Undoubtedly: history is littered with writers neglected in their lifetime who later became important: Leopardi, Hopkins, Vallejo, etc. Yet it was not theory as such that delayed recognition, but a narrow provincialism of taste, the very thing that theory with its wider viewpoints seeks to overcome.

Perhaps theory does not possess such liberality and tolerance, but is coercive and possessive? So contend the irrationalists. Paul Feyerabend argued that true science was being stifled by the scientific establishment, an institution as self-serving and undemocratic as the medieval Christian Church. Barthes argued on Marxist lines that ideology created meaning. Foucault saw language as an instrument of state repression.

Some evidence was provided, more by way of illustration than proof perhaps. And certainly science polices its communities, their practices and their habits of belief. The objectivity of the scientific paper is a deception, a rhetoric employed to publicize personal achievement under the guise of selfless furtherance of knowledge. But then language is a complex web of semantic interactions in which there is no sharp distinction between the individual and public, or between the literal and the metaphoric. {14}

Additionally, and very importantly, however, language is a social construction, and a collective representation, so that discrepancies between the real and imagined soon crop up, a point John Davidson used to validate his very different theory of meaning. Do such discrepancies appear? Not to any obvious extent. So what remains to the irrationalists? We all suffer, they suppose, from the collective and sustained delusions that psychoanalysts claim to understand and cure. And the evidence for such delusions? None; there can't be, as the ever cunning superego removes all knowledge of our sickness. Well then: we turn to the cures of psychoanalysis, and find them equally nonexistent. {15}

Criticism Misled

So to the second group of arguments, that literary criticism has been distracted from its proper job by an over-reliance on critical theory. Is this so? Probably yes, but with this proviso. It is not theory per se that led criticism astray, but the wrong theories. Many scholars pointed out shortcomings with earlier theories of literature, but there were few attempts to build better. Humanism with its inherent belief in the perfectibility of man, New Criticism with its simplistic psychology, Structuralism with its mathematical analogies between literature and society, semiotics which misread its originator, Poststructuralists with theories contrary to common sense and the authorities quoted — surely these should have been overturned? Perhaps it was academic caution, the realization that no profit was to be had in fishing these troubled waters. Or the increasing specialization in university life that kept scholars on the narrow escalators of their careers.

Yet perfectly sensible theory has been available throughout the twentieth century. Aesthetics is not easy reading, nor much developed in Anglo-American schools of philosophy, but literary scholars might well have gone back to the philosophers from whom Coleridge drew his inspiration. They might have read Collingwood or Dewey or Cassirer. Or they might simply have asked themselves what spiritual or practical or ethical good was conferred by the award of a degree in English Literature.

Conclusions: Place of Theory

What conclusion can we reach, reviewing the vagaries of theory and criticism of the last century? How can these notes possibly help in the writing of poetry?

In these ways:

1. Theory requires us to look at the larger picture. Had literature been approached with some grounding in aesthetics, some realization that expression, purpose, fidelity to life, and formal aspects all had their part of play, we might have had poets prepared to go out and write cogently on matters of deep and lasting importance. It is at least to the credit of radical criticism that it took seriously, and still takes seriously, the philosophical issues involved.

2. Though much contemporary theory serves only to perplex and discourage the contemporary writer, there are important questions raised. Hence the Theory section, which provide material to critically assess, to separate the plausible from the bogus, and to put down intellectual roots.

3. The subjects which current literary theory claims to oversee are fascinating domains in their own right. Their study enriches, deepens and invigorates our understanding of the world. Writing which remains in ignorance of larger issues condemns itself to provincialism, neither interesting to the present age or those to come. No doubt the subjects touched upon are too complex to be digested in their entirety, but these notes may enable the reader to understand the basic issues in the increasing amount of material becoming available on the Internet. Detailed though the Theory pages will seem, they are not crib sheets for busy students but introductions for those who want to make the necessary journeys for themselves.

4. Indeed, far from inhibiting expression, a true understanding of theory is an immensely liberating experience. Rules all have some basis in theory, which the writer must understand to escape from blind conformity. That conformity today tends to be a diluted Modernism or Postmodernism turning out acclaimed but rather disappointing work.

5. Theory can also be the means to better writing. Whatever the beginner supposes, his ideas and outlooks come from somewhere, and the self-evident is usually the shallow and unexamined public mind. Humanism was inspiring but did not stoop to verification. Radical theory is closer to contemporary realities, but is often shabby in detail. Both can be brought into hermeneutics and a deeper view of human functioning that science is now developing. What we understand of ourselves, and the world, is what we write about, and that understanding in the end needs outlooks, world-views and philosophies. At its very least, theory serves as a prophylactic against the preposterous and stultifying, and may provide something of the unifying inspiration that artists seek in their work.

But not only artists. We are all social creatures. Communication, so necessary and instinctive to us, can be done well or badly, so that inescapably art enters into all human activities. Many attempts have been made this century to identify the distinguishing features that separate art from non-art, poetry from prose, the authentic from the secondhand. They have largely failed. Art is too various and pervasive to be compartmentalized.

That is no argument against standards, however, or reason for not doing well what is anyway inescapable. No doubt that calls for many human qualities, and will involve our human frailties, individual and communal. Yet imagination is not a private indulgence but an inheritance with demands and responsibilities through which we learn the geography of our common home.


1. D.J. Taylor's A Vain Conceit: British Fiction in the 1980's (1989), and Julian Symons's Makers of the New: The Revolution in Literature 1912-39. (1987).
2. Brian Appleyard's The Culture Club: Crisis in the Arts. (1984) and, for a contrary view, Peter Finch's How to Get your Poetry Published (1991).
3. George Greenfield's Scribblers for Bread (1989).
4. A.F.Scott's The Poet's Craft: A Course in the Critical Appreciation of Poetry (1957).
5. p. 296 in David Daiches's Critical Approaches to Literature 1981.
6. Chapter 11 of George Watson's The Literary Critics (1986), Wendell V. Harris's Literary Meaning: Reclaiming the Study of Literature (1996), Bernard Bergonzi's Exploding English: Criticism, Theory, Culture. (1990). Gerald Graff's Literature Against Itself: Literary Ideas in Modern Society (1979/95), and Denis Donoghue's The Pure Good of Theory (1992).
7. Patricia Waugh's Harvest of the Sixties: English Literature and its Background 1960-1990 (1995).
8. R. Selden's (Ed) The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism. Volume 8. From Formalism to Poststructuralism. (1995).
9. Frank Lentricchia and Thomas McLaughlin's Critical Terms for Literary Study (1995).
10. See any guide to professional writing, e.g. Barry Turner's The Writer's Companion: The Essential Guide to Being Published (1996), Andrew Croft's How to Make Money from Freelance Writing (1992), Phyllis Whitney's Guide to Fiction Writing (1982) and Margret Geraghty's The Novelist's Guide (1995).
11. pp. 40-42 in George Watson's The Discipline of English: A Guide to Critical Theory and Practice (1978).
12. John Carey's Viewpoint from the T.L.S. in his Original Copy: Selected Reviews and Journalism 1969-1986. (1987).
13. pp. 42-48 in Watson 1978.
14. Chapters 7 and 8 of Michael A. Arbib and Mary B. Hesse's The Construction of Reality (1986).
15. Hans Eysenck and Glen Wilson's The Experimental Study of Freudian Theories (1973).

Internet Resources

1. A novel complaint. D J Taylor. Sep. 1999. http://www.findarticles.com/cf_0/m0FQP/4454_128/
. Author looks back on his controversial book.
2. Thoughts on Writing. Jenny Hobbs. http://www.icon.co.za/~hobbsall/writing.html. Advice and booklist.
3. Literary Theory. http://vos.ucsb.edu/browse.asp?id=2718. VOS listings.
4. Humanistic Discourse and Others. J. Hillis Miller. http://www.pum.umontreal.ca/revues/surfaces/vol4/miller.html. Radical theory in US education.
5. Gerald Graff. Literature Against Itself: Literary Ideas in Modern Society. Frederick Glaysher. 1983. http://www.fglaysher.com/LitAI.htm. Book review in World Order.
6. Comparative Literature and Theory. Stephen Hock and Mark Sample . Jun. 2003. http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/Complit/Eclat/. Essential listings.
7. Guide to Literary Theory. Michael Groden and Martin Kreiswirth. http://www.press.jhu.edu/books/guide/. Johns Hopkins online guide: free access limited.
8. Literary Criticism. http://www.libraryspot.com/litcrit.htm. Library Spot's listing.
9. The State of Literary Criticism. Roger Shattuck. Oct. 1995. http://www.mrbauld.com/Shatuck1.html. A plea for a return to the study of literature as literature.
10. Introduction to Modern Literary Theory. Kristi Siegel. Jan. 2003. http://www.kristisiegel.com/theory.htm. Introduction to types, bibliographies and Internet listings.
11. Keeping the Faith: The Limits of Ideological Criticism. Ray Carney. 1995. http://people.bu.edu/rcarney/acad/skep.htm. Excerpts from Ray Carney's review of The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism.
12. General Literary Theory and Criticism Guides. John Phillips. http://courses.nus.edu.sg/course/elljwp/
. Listings for course.
13. Literary History. Jan Pridmore. Jan. 2004. http://www.literaryhistory.com/index.htm. Index of critical articles.