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Literary theory has become the hegemonic methodology for the study of text and is often regarded both as a sub-discipline in itself and as a critical tool through which to liberate deeper and more complex meanings from texts. It encompasses a massive range of topics, including periods, movements, themes and works that make it a dynamic field of study. It is constantly evolving as writers from different areas make connections with what might be termed mainstream literary theory and these writers, in turn, become part of the theoretical enterprise. While this presents problems for the classifier and the bibliographer, it is an example of the dynamic and constantly-developing aspects of the field that have made it such an indispensable tool in the area of reading texts, be these texts written, iconic or socio-cultural. As such, this area invites trans-disciplinary collaboration with fields as varied as literature, history, cultural studies, and philosophy making it challenging for students and scholars to stay informed about every applicable area. Given that literary theory draws from other disciplines such as linguistics, philosophy, psychoanalysis, sociology, the social sciences and work from non-Anglophone cultures and traditions, the very scope which makes it a necessary tool for contemporary academics and intellectuals can be off-putting in terms of locating a starting point for any specific inquiry. Oxford Bibliographies in Literary and Critical Theory will offer clearly-signposted pathways through the different areas, and will make clear references to the other disciplines which feed in to, and are often transformed by, literary theory.
Editor in Chief
Eugene O’Brien is Professor of English Literature and Theory, and Head of the Department of English Language and Literature in Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick, Ireland. He is also the director of the Mary Immaculate Institute for Irish Studies. Among others, his publications include: Reading Paul Howard: The Art of Ross O'Carroll Kelly (London: Routledge, 2023); Seamus Heaney as Aesthetic Thinker: A Study of Prose (Syracuse University Press, 2016); ‘Kicking Bishop Brennan up the Arse – Negotiating Texts and Contexts in Contemporary Irish Studies (Peter Lang, 2009); Seamus Heaney – Creating Irelands of the Mind (Revised Edition, Dublin: Liffey Press, 2007); Seamus Heaney: Searches for Answers (London: Pluto Press, 2004); and Seamus Heaney and the Place of Writing (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2003). He is currently writing The Poetry of Micheal O’Siadhail, forthcoming with Routledge.
* = recently published
Concepts, Genres and Approaches
Literary Critics and Theorists
Major Schools of Criticism
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