Have you heard the terms structuralism and deconstruction and postmodernism but aren’t really sure what they mean? Have you taken a whole course on literary criticism but are still feeling lost? Here’s the book you need to sort it all out—and enjoy doing so!
In Literary Theory For Beginners, Mary Klages takes you into her classroom, cuts through the jargon, and explains the ABCs (and the DEFs as well) in terms you can get your head around. Her breadth of knowledge, her unique skills as a teacher, and the delightful illustrations of Frank Reynoso help us understand why literature matters, how it affects us, and how it reflects history, culture, and diversity. Here are ways of thinking about literature—not just reading it—methods of study and frameworks of interpretation from classical humanism all the way up to psychoanalysis, gender and queer theory, race, postcolonialism, and, yes, postmodernism
With wit and wisdom, Klages takes on the two most frequently asked questions about literature and makes it all fun:
What does the work MEAN? (What is the deeper, hidden, or symbolic meaning? Did the author intend all these meanings? Are any and all meanings present in the text? Are all meanings equally valid?)What does the work DO? (Why is literature important? What effect does it have on the reader? How can literature be a force for social change?)
So sit back, relax, and take it all in!
Mary Klages is an associate professor in the English Department of the University of Colorado at Boulder. She is the author of Literary Theory: A Guide for the Perplexed(Continuum, 2006) and Key Terms in Literary Theory (Continuum, 2012), as well as scholarly works in the fields of American literary history and Disability Studies. Visit her at http://english.colorado.edu/mary-klages/.
Frank Reynoso is a Brooklyn-based writer, cartoonist and illustrator. His comics have appeared in BRKLYNR, Mint, World War 3 Illustrated, and Occupy Comics. And he's done illustrations for The Physics of the Impossible on the Science channel, and Mayfair Games. He enjoys horror, science fiction, and comedy with a glass of wine.