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The Future of Theory (Blackwell Manifestos)by Jean-michel Rabate
Synopses & Reviews
Is Theory dead? Is it, as skeptics suggest, too distant from anything “real” to be useful, too sweeping in its referral of all texts to grand theses? Or is it a mask for fashion and self-promotion in academia? In this controversial manifesto, Jean-Michel Rabaté addresses current anxieties about Theory and claims that it still has a crucial role to play.
Acknowledging that he cannot speak about the future of Theory without taking stock of its past, Rabaté starts by sketching its genealogy, particularly its relation to Surrealism, philosophy, and the hard sciences. Against this background, he proposes that Theory, like hysteria, consistently points out the inadequacies of official, serious and “masterful” knowledge. Its role, he suggests, is to ask difficult, foundational questions, which entail revisionary readings of culture and its texts.
In this way, Rabaté claims, whether the theory of the moment is structuralism or globalization, Theory in its broader sense will always return, providing us with provocative and stimulating insights into what we do and how we read.
Book News Annotation:
Addressing current anxieties about theory and claiming that it still has a crucial role to play, Rabat<'e> (English and comparative literature, U. of Pennsylvania) sketches the genealogy of theory, particularly its relationship to Surrealism, philosophy, and the hard sciences. He proposes that theory, like hysteria, consistently points out the inadequacies of official, "masterful" language, playing a vital role by asking difficult, foundational questions which entail revisionary readings of culture and its texts.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
In this controversial manifesto, Jean-Michel Rabaté addresses current anxieties about the future of literary and cultural theory and proposes that it still has a crucial role to play.
About the Author
Jean-Michel Rabaté is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania. He has published books on Beckett, Bernhard, Pound, Joyce, Lacan, psychoanalysis, and literary theory. His recent books include The Ghosts of Modernity (1996), Joyce and the Politics of Egoism (2001), and Jacques Lacan and Literature (2001). He has also edited several collections of essays, including Writing the Image after Roland Barthes (1997), Jacques Lacan in America (2000), and The Cambridge Companion to Jacques Lacan (2002).
Table of Contents
1. Geneaology 1: Hegel's Plague.
2. Genealogy 2: The Avant-Garde at Theory's High Tide.
3. Theory, Science, Technology.
4. Theory not of Literature but as Literature.
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