The book Theory After Theory by Nicholas Birns was recently recommended to me as a good intellectual history of literary theory and a good way to brush up on post WWII theory before comps. I’m about a third of the way through and so far it’s informative and well-written. Since early in the class a few mentioned feeling in the dark about some theory (I’m one of those who feels lost in theory conversations) I thought it might be a good book to share.
Theory After Theory traces the developments in theory starting with the end of the New Critical era then following chapters on 1) Foucault, 2) Derrida, 3) Feminist Theory, 4) Anti-Racist Theory, 5) Post-Colonial Theory, and 6) Queer Theory. So far I’m through the Foucault and Derrida chapters, and have both learned a lot and been reminded of parts of the those writers’ work I’d forgotten. Theory After Theory is French-theory-heavy, but Birns does a good job explaining why French theory was picked up and came to be so influential.
The book has an excellent index and is a great text for anyone looking to review (or learn) theory and its history.
All the best,