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by Terry Eagleton
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History & Criticism
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    Terry Eagleton
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    Basic Books; First edition (December 24, 2003)
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    240 pages
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    History & Criticism
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FREE shipping on qualifying offers. As heralded everywhere from NPR to the pages of the New York Times Magazine, a new era is underway in our colleges and universities: after a lengthy tenure.

Terry Eagleton's important recent book After Theory is both a look back to the "golden age of cultural theory" (1) and a look forward to the new challenges faced by contemporary cultural theory. In effect, it places both the "high theories" of Raymond Williams, Luce Irigaray, Pierre Bourdieu, Julia Kristeva, Jacques Derrida, Helene Cixous, Jurgen Habermas, Fredric Jameson, Edward Said, and others, and the current orthodoxies of cultural theory, in the rear-view mirror, and looks forward to an age of cultural theory yet to be written.

Terence Francis Eagleton FBA (born 1943) is a British literary theorist, critic, and public intellectual. He is currently Distinguished Professor of English Literature at Lancaster University. Eagleton has published over forty books, but remains best known for Literary Theory: An Introduction (1983), which has sold over 750,000 copies. The work elucidated the emerging literary theory of the period, as well as arguing that all literary theory is necessarily political.

Abdelkader Aoudjit discusses Terry Eagleton’s take on what comes after postmodernism. In the same book, Eagleton also warned his readers about what he thinks are ahistorical and ideologically suspicious literary theories such as New Criticism, formalism, (post-)structuralism, psychoanalysis and deconstruction. He wrote that the great majority of the literary theories outlined in this book have strengthened rather than challenged the assumptions of the power-system.

Although I don't always agree with Terry Eagleton, this book was a great read. Informative and humorous, Eagleton makes theory much less boring.

Terry Eagleton is Professor of Cultural Theory at Manchester University. He is the author of Literary Theory, several plays, a trilogy on Irish culture, the screenplay for Derek Jarman's film Wittgenstein, and many other books

Terry Eagleton is Professor of Cultural Theory at Manchester University. He is the author of Literary Theory, several plays, a trilogy on Irish culture, the screenplay for Derek Jarman's film Wittgenstein, and many other books. Библиографические данные. After Theory Art of Mentoring Series Basic Books.

PENGUIN BOOKS AFTER THEORY ‘Remarkabl. erry Eagleton has never been so profound and witty. He tackles pretty well all the great topics of our tim. nd surpasses the intellectual. Remarkabl. nd surpasses the intellectual developments of Literary Theory’ Frank Kermode. Very readabl. reminder of the fact that postmodernism’s failure to find answers will not stop intelligent minds from mulling over some pretty ancient questions’ A. N. Wilson, Daily Telegraph.

John Mullan enjoys After Theory, the latest 'text' from the high priest of theory, Terry Eagleton

John Mullan enjoys After Theory, the latest 'text' from the high priest of theory, Terry Eagleton. The arrival of literary theory from France was broadly welcome, for it crushed with its rigour the effete mutterings of bourgeois humanism. Yet while he was theory's ambassador, he always managed to signal his own distance from it.

Eagleton, the man known by students for writing one book, called Literary Theory (1983), is in reality a critic . Eagleton received his BA in 1964 and his P.

Born in Salford, England, Eagleton studied at Cambridge University, where he studied with the Marxist critic Raymond Williams.

For anyone forced to wrestle with the likes of Derrida and Foucault during their college days, Terry Eagleton needs no introduction. His clear and accessible primer on literary theory was (and is) an indispensable guide to the post-modern era in the humanities. Now Eagleton argues that the golden age of cultural theory has ended, and with characteristic wit and verve, he traces its rise and fall from structuralism to post-colonial studies and beyond. In a new era of globalization and terrorism, Eagleton warns, the bundle of ideas known as post-modernism is essentially toothless.In this eloquent synthesis of a lifetime of learning, Eagleton challenges contemporary intellectuals to engage with a range of vital topics-love, evil, death, morality, religion, and revolution-that they've ignored over the past thirty years. Lively and provocative, Eagleton's latest will engage readers inside and outside the academy who are eager for a more holistic and humane way of "reading" the world."A rare opportunity to enjoy the art of cultural and social diagnosis at its purest! Eagleton offers a unique combination of theoretical stringency and acerbic common-sense witticism, of critical historical reflection and the ability to ask the 'big' metaphysical questions."-Slavoj Zizek

I suspect that the title of Terry Eagleton's After Theory is intentionally uncertain. The book is readable, interesting, insightful, just like Eagleton's numerous other publications. But one gets the distinct impression that he wasn't quite sure what he wanted to do or where he wanted to go when he started working on this one. In fact, there is a stream-of-consciousness feel to much of the book that invites the judgment that Eagleton wrote After Theory as he went along, off the top of his well-stocked head, without much prior planning.

After Theory is oddly disjointed. Chapters are strung together with a bare minimum of connective tissue, using transitions consisting of no more than an off-handed sentence or two. In this respect, the book reminds me of a hurried paper prepared for presentation at a meeting that is scheduled a day or two earlier than the author would like. With some judicious editing, however, After Theory could easily consititute a much more coherent presentation.

Similarly, Eagleton is good at aphorisms. He knows a lot, has read and remembered a lifetime of disparate literature, has an enormously broad range of references, and achieved mature insights that certainly merit sharing. Some of his pages are heavy-laden with four, five six ... truly pithy observations, but they remain disconnected and undeveloped. Eric Hoffer, the longshoreman autodidact who wrote The True Believer, was fond of saying that he thought in aphorisms, and that he had trouble understanding the work of authors whose work could not be reduced to aphorisms. If Hoffer were still around to read After Theory, he'd see that Eagleton, especially in the latter half of the book, has done the reduction-to-aphorisms work for him. It's good material, but mabye Eagleton should have titled his book "What I Have Learned: Make of It What You Will."

Eagleton also seems to have mixed, perhaps irreconcilably contradictory, assessments of recent literary and cultural theory, meaning structuralism, post-structuralism, and post-modernism. He begins by paying homage to the power and originality of writers such as Athusser, Barthes, Derrida, Lacan, Lyotard, and numerous others whose theoertical work came to fruition during the period from 1965 to 1985, generating intellectual ferment in literary studies and the interpretation of culture generally. Eagleton's laudatory observations, however, remain at a very high level of abstraction. When he gets concrete, rather than offering accolades he focuses on the authors' conceptual tunnel vision, over-reaching, internal contradictions, misconstruing the meaning of basic ideas, and the trivializing of genuinely important issues while over-valuing the aesthetics of personal preference. Eagleton may be perfectly serious when he argues that the theoretical frameworks and perspectives promulgated during the intellectual excitement of the mid-'60's to the mid-'80's are of enduring value. He may really mean it when he says that these points of view enable us to see a good deal of value that we otherwise would miss. But he seems hard-pressed to come up with concrete examples. Even when he expresses indebtedness to Foucault for providing the conceptual wherewithal that made the concluding section of After Theory possible, Eagleton offers no explanation.

The further we get into After Theory, the clearer it becomes that Eagleton regards these recent theoretical developments as, for better or worse, extensions of early Twentieth Century modernism. The first decades of the Twentieth Century, as a result, seem much more theoretically fertile than the period from 1965 to 1985. By giving priority to earlier decades, Eagleton presents subsequent theoretical work as rooted in, and perhaps ancillary to, the emergence and development of modernism early in the last century. In the case of post-modernism, moreover, modernism, as Eagleton sees it, has been perverted into a manifestation of the globalization of capital, with its unmistakable claims that markets are the only sacred institutions and that value is transitory, arbitrary, unsubstantiated, and groundless.

Whatever the merit of recent theoretical work, Eagleton finds the work of Marx and Freud still fresh and conceptually powerful, providing the intellectual wherewithal to understand today's world. Structuralism, post-structuralism, and post-modernism may very well have a contribution to make, but the work of Marx and Freud remains much more illuminating than anything that has come along since they put pen to paper.

I suspect that Eagleton is of an age and temperament that make finding satisfaction in slippery signifiers and excietment in radical anti-foundationalism seem decadent. Such notions have their place, but they have been over-valued, and their effect on efforts to make the miserable world that we share a better home for all of us has been pernicious.

After theory is not Eagleton's best book, but it is a good one. It's good to read something that takes a stand against the self-indulgent triviliazation of important issues that one finds in modern social theory, and tries to find a philosophical basis for social action of a genuinely progressive sort.
A dense yet engaging read. Eagleton's polemics are witty and imaginative and his critique of cultural theory is highly insightful.
I have recently read this book, and I have to say that I'm less than impressed with it. When I started it, I was pleased and relieved that it was so easy to read and entertaining, but after a couple of chapters of Eagleton's witticisms and biting humor, I found myself waiting for the "theory" to kick in...and it took him until the last three chapters. The book seems to be primarily a rant directed against capitalism (i.e.-the United States, though he does make a tiny disclaimer about this in the postscript), and while it's not surprising coming from an alleged Marxist, it does eventually begin to wear on the reader--at least on this reader. He has good points, but After Theory really feels more like a soapbox for a fist-shaking rant than a discussion of the decades that have comes after literary theory's "golden age" of 1965-1980. I was really hoping for more out of this book.
As with all the Terry Eagleton books I've read, this one tackles some difficult and complex topics with refreshingly jargon-free language. I wouldn't say his language is always clear, or that his arguments are always persuasive, but for the most part I thought this book was brilliant and deeply thought-provoking.

This volume presents an overview of the field of cultural theory (as of 2003), and from there goes on to look at a broad swath of the subjects that come under the umbrella of that field. Eagleton hops from subject to subject, with the underlying structure of the book being rather tenuous. But at every hopping-point in the book one finds some fascinating insights, presented with both humor and a deep compassion for humanity.

One sample of Eagleton's sharp, witty commentary is on the topic of obscurity and jargon in the field of cultural theory -- something that has drawn a lot of criticism to the field:
"We do not mind if the doctor asks us how the old tummy is getting along, but if he were to write `Old tummy playing up a bit' on his clinical notes, our confidence in his professional abilities might take a knock. If an art critic writes that there's a very nice sort of funny little red thing in the centre of the canvas, we might begin to wonder whether the public resources lavished on her education were really justified. [...] Difficulty is a matter of content, whereas obscurity is a question of how you present that content. It is true that there are some ideas, not least in science, which cannot be adequately simplified. [...] Yet it is possible to write clearly about some esoteric issues, just as some theorists manage with heroic perversity to write esoterically about plain ones."

And another sample, on literary critics versus theorists, in the view of some critics:
"What have been cultural theory's achievements? To begin with, it has disabused us of the idea that there is a single correct way to interpret a work of art. There is a joke about the bogusly ecumenical Catholic who conceded to his Protestant colleague that there were many ways of worshipping God, `you in your way, and I in His'. This is pretty much how many conservative critics regard theorists. They themselves read the work as it would wish to be read could it but speak, whereas theorists perversely insist on importing a lot of fancy ideas into it. To see The Waste Land as brooding upon the spiritual vacancy of Man without God is to read what is there on the page, whereas to view it as a symptom of an exhausted bourgeois civilization in an era of imperialist warfare is to impose your own crankish theory on the poem. To speak of spiritual exploration in D. H. Lawrence is to be true to the texts, while to speak of sexism in his work is to twist them to your own political purposes."

And another, on politics and the use of the word "evil":
"It is true that morality has been often enough a way of ducking hard political questions by reducing them to the personal. In the so-called war against terrorism, for example, the word `evil' really means: Don't look for a political explanation. It is a wonderfully time-saving device. If terrorists are simply Satanic, then you do not need to investigate what lies behind their atrocious acts of violence."

As much as I respect and enjoyed this book, I did have some disagreements with it. Perhaps most significantly, I feel that Eagleton has an inclination to apply stereotypes to classes of people -- capitalists, Marxists, postmodernists and so on -- and then to point out how wrong these stereotyped straw men are. In a brief discussion of atheism, for example, he seems to commit this error even as he accuses others of making it: "Atheists tend to advance a version of religion which nobody in their right mind would subscribe to, and then righteously reject it." In Eagleton's description of this religion that "nobody in their right mind would subscribe to" that follows, it's clear that he's describing a hugely popular and common brand of religion, so it's unclear why atheists should be more prohibited from righteously rejecting it than Eagleton himself is. He also equates all atheism with pulpit-thumpers like Richard Dawkins, and seems to assume that pulpit-thumping rage against not-in-their-right-mind versions of religion is all that there is to atheism.

But occasional disagreements and all, I thought this was a terrifically thoughtful and thought-provoking book.