In the name of Allah the Merciful

Criticism After Theory from Shakespeare to Virginia Woolf

Perry Meisel, 1032244232, 978-1032244235, 9781032244235, B09WXXTND7

English | 2022 | PDF | 2 MB | 175 Pages

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The argument of this book is a simple one: that criticism after theory is a single movement of thought defined by synthesis and continuity rather than by conflict and change. The most influential figures in criticism since Saussure―Bakhtin, Derrida, and Foucault―are wholly consistent with Saussure's foundational Course in General Linguistics (1916) no matter the traditions of complaint that have followed in Saussure's wake from Bakhtin forward. These complaints vitiate―despite themselves and often hilariously so―the misconceptions that have made cottage industries out of quarrels with Saussurean semiology that are based on notions of Saussure that are incorrect. The materialist criticism dominant today is actually dependent upon on the legacy of a presumably formalist structuralism rather than a step beyond it. New Historicism, postcolonialism, gender studies, environmental criticism, archive studies, even shared and surface reading are, like deconstruction, the by-products of Saussure's structuralism, not its foils. Saussure's sign is sensory and concrete. Language and materiality are not distinct but one and the same―history, society, the psychological subject, even the environment are systems of signs, material archives read and reread by futures that produce the past after the fact. Without Saussure, contemporary criticism would have no identifiable or effective source. The book begins with chapters on Saussure and Derrida, Bakhtin and Shakespeare, and Freud and Foucault followed by chapters on Victorian and American fiction, D.H. Lawrence and modern poetry, Virginia Woolf and Melanie Klein, and the historicist tropology of psychoanalysis. It concludes with a coda in life writing on the author's epileptic disability.