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Introducing Critical Theory: A Graphic Guide (Introducing...) von [Sim, Professor Stuart]
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What might a 'theory of everything' look like? Is science an ideology? Who were Adorno, Horkheimer or the Frankfurt School? The decades since the 1960s have seen an explosion in the production of critical theories. Deconstructionists, poststructuralists, postmodernists, second-wave feminists, new historicists, cultural materialists, postcolonialists, black critics and queer theorists, among a host of others, all vie for our attention. Stuart Sim and Borin Van Loon's incisive graphic guide provides a route through the tangled jungle of competing ideas and provides an essential historical context, situating these theories within tradition of critical analysis going back to the rise of Marxism. They present the essential methods and objectives of each theoretical school in an incisive and accessible manner, and pay special attention to recurrent themes and concerns that have preoccupied a century of critical theoretical activity.


The last few decades have seen a veritable explosion in the production of critical theory. Deconstructionists, poststructuralists, postmodernists, second-wave feminists, new historicists, cultural materialists, postcolonialists, black critics and queer theorists, among a host of others, all vie for our attention. Introducing Critical Theory provides a route through this jungle. It puts into context recent developments by situating them within the longer-term tradition of critical analysis - back to the rise of Marxism. Special attention is paid to recurrent themes and concerns that have preoccupied a century of critical theoretical activity.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 71489 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 175 Seiten
  • Verlag: Icon Books Ltd; Auflage: Revised edition (5. Juni 2014)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) HASH(0x979461e0) von 5 Sternen 19 Rezensionen
42 von 48 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x975e9f84) von 5 Sternen Good Overview - A Starting Point 27. Dezember 2002
Von zift - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
This book, part of a series (basically "Philosophy for dummies") will be purchased by stressed-out college students trying to write term papers for literature class. After getting totally confused by the impenetrable writing of the great theorists themselves, students will turn to this book hoping to get some light. The book gives a decent overview of the major theories, trying to put them in common language, something the theorists themselves seem incapable of writing in. It goes so far as to use cartoons to get the points across.

While it will help sort out Deconstruction from Formalism and so on, don't count on this to save your term paper the night before its due. There's not enough detail on any of the theories to stand alone, and they are presented in a strange order. Also, some of the major schools of criticism (like New Criticism) don't appear. The author is obviously quite fond of Marxism. Unfortunately, the author also slides into some of the same kind of mumbo-jumbo as the original theorists themselves.

The idea is still a great one, however. If you read this, then some of the more specific books that follow (Introducing Lacan, Derrida, etc) it may help get you started.
Hey, if the alternative is trying to sort through Derrida and Barthes themselves, then anything has got to be better.
20 von 21 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x975a3378) von 5 Sternen I would say this book is very useful... 21. Mai 2008
Von Spunk Monkey - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
Reading this book is not going to make you an expert on Foucault or Lacan- however, if what you are seeking is an idea as to the spectrum of schools and branches and concerns of "critical theory," or if you're not even terribly sure what "critical theory" IS, then I suggest you pick this book up. When I was just getting started, it really helped me create a "cognitive map" of the field. Basically you get a mapped out schema of the world of critical theory, with a few tantalizing tidbits dropped about some of the thinkers- then it is up to you to go out and get the real books and start reading them. But if you are starting from nothing, and don't even know what you want to read- Donald Rumsfield's "Unknown Unknowns," then start reading this book so you can figure out what your "Known unknowns" are: "I don't know anything about Althusser, but judging on what I read in this book, I now know that I want to study him," etc. I have a few other of the "Introducing" books, and, honestly, the only one I came back to at all frequently was this one. It does not try to "explain" any particular thinker, but to introduce you to a field- I think in this regard I think it is sucessful. It is by no means perfect- for instance, Zizek only gets two teeny little pages- but, again, it is making various "names" available to you, various schools, various strands- Frankfurt school, Deconstruction, Structuralism, Post Marxist, Post Feminist, etc- so that you can go out and get started. I highly recommend this book. I think it is terrific. (Plus the illustrations are great fun!) Critical theory can be a confusing hodge podge of theoretical models- this book will help you on the path.
8 von 8 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x975a2858) von 5 Sternen Well Worth the Plunge 26. Mai 2010
Von Herbert L Calhoun - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
Trying to read Habermas, Lacan, or even Derrida is like having a root canal. As a novice, I found almost without exception, the literature written by these prime movers of critical theory, just short of impenetrable.

This little book, on the other hand, while presenting its own special problems (there is no logic to its layout for instance) does provide a hook for understanding, for people like myself. I now have a reasonable good lay of the land. So that when I return to the leading writers of the movement, I will at least then have a fighting chance. In short, this book provides a crude index, that while not quite a conceptual map of where the various islands of theoretical development lie (and where each of the prime movers sit in the scheme of things), does give us a meandering trip through the major historical developments hitting the major signposts in a meaningful if not in an always coherent way.

As for overall logic, critical theory, at its deepest level appears to be a general theory of the use of symbols in the generation of meaning and knowledge. It is a theory that has come about in a "backward propagation" sort of way: that is to say, by observing the texts of literature and subtext of culture and social organization, and how the various levels "actually work" and then deconstructing the cultural messages sent and received by the meaning of these text (and subtexts)-- or said in the vernacular of the theorists themselves: by "reading the texts back against themselves."

Marx and Freud figure prominently in the development of Critical Theory as their respective theories were concerned primarily with the subtext of meanings: Marx's was concerned primarily with the subtext of economics: the class struggle between the exploiters of labor and those exploited; while Freud spent most of his time developing a theoretical map of the "unconscious, arguably responsible for most of our conscious behavior. In both cases the "unseen" or what is below the waterline accounts for the lion's share of what happens above water in conscious "reality." Culture and politics are also areas in which the subtext dominates from "off stage."

One take away message from the book is that reading the subtext of culture, politics and economics is not just the heaviest clue as to where critical theory comes from, but also to where it is headed. It is very much analogous in its approach to theoretical developments in abstract mathematics, where pre-mathematical entities such as transformations and maps have their own deeper logic and are introduced and understood well before any concrete entities such as numbers are ever introduced.

The same is true of Critical Theory. Mining the subtext, the "unconscious," the unseen moving hand in economics," etc. is not just the main clue but also the main heuristic for pushing forward both literary and philosophical theories of meaning. The unseen, the subtext, provides the grist for the criticism mill, as well as keeps pointing forward to a more general theory of the philosophy of knowledge and meaning. Like in quantum physics, things become a bit untidy as one comes closer to the limits, and Literary Criticism itself, at that point becomes just a side issue (an afterthought) compared to the fuller philosophical and logical implications of critical theory as a whole.

Altogether, the book helped put a lot of the things I have read elsewhere into perspective. Well worth the plunge. Four stars
8 von 9 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x975a254c) von 5 Sternen Confused and scattered 29. Juli 2012
Von Dana Robinson - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
This book is awful. It is not an introduction at all and assumes that you are familiar with all the various -isms which are bandied about like a swingball. For example, at no time in the book is "critical theory" defined! Not even in the glossary! Every page is simply a bunch of Trivial Pursuit factoids with a loose association to the topic and a cute picture. There is no obvious underlying unity to the book (except perhaps that Marxism is really important in some poorly-described way) and there is little in the way of explanation. I would advise NOT purchasing this book and I would hesitate to buy another book from this series. I would try the "A Very Short Introduction" series if you want an overview of critical theory or any subject. They are much better than this dreck.
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x975a2bc4) von 5 Sternen Not Quite Critical Theory in a "Nutshell" 23. November 2013
Von Pop Bop - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
Law school students have relied for decades on a series of books in the "Nutshell" series. Each volume is an authoritative introduction to a particular subject. (As broad as "Property" or as focused as "Indian Law".) Those books try to provide a complete outline of a body of law, capturing both the big picture and in depth specifics. While such books are valuable, they tend to be too simple, obvious or general for experienced professionals and yet too detailed and difficult for complete novices. They work best for students who are in or have just completed a first class in the subject. Those students have enough general grounding to get some traction into the subject, but can benefit from both general outline and specific topic help.

All of that is by way of introducing this book. It is not quite at the Nutshell level, in that it is a very, very broad introduction to the topic. On any particular topic, theory or school there is only a brief sketch or description. That is not necessarily a criticism, (hah; did I use "criticism" properly? Read the book to decide), because this field is so complex it warrants a 175 page introduction. If you have some background in critical theory this book will help you organize your thoughts, but probably won't add much new to your understanding. If you are knowledgeable in the field you will probably just note places where you disagree with the author's choices or emphasis.

However, if you are an interested novice who is curious about critical theory, and want the equivalent of the first lecture from a survey course or the annotated reading list for a survey course, this would be an excellent choice.

Please note that I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a candid review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.
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