Postmodern Literary Theory: An Anthology

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Literature today is a very different concept from that of only a generation ago, and this difference is attributed usually to 'postmodernism' as a powerful signifier of the radically new and challenging. Most radical of all is the possibility that the very notion of literature is rendered untenable by postmodernism. How did this possibility arise? Who are the key figures responsible for its emergence; which are the key texts of its expression? This anthology provides ways of responding to such questions and at the same time to show that postmodern literary theory cannot be understood in terms of an archive or a method. Its defining feature is an attitude of questioning, which neither derives from a manifesto nor constitutes a movement.Postmodern literary theory hasn't come from nowhere. Its beginnings lie in certain ideas associated with the likes of Barthes and Foucault in the 1970s, and in the disavowal of values and the questioning of literature associated with the eighteenth-century Romantics. Although postmodern literary theory does have some foundational texts and founding figures, these work to undo the very notion of 'foundations' - including the very notion of literature itself. It is this work (rather than some archive) which Postmodern Literary Theory: An Anthology is designed to show. What is anthologized here, in short, are concepts, arguments, practices and debates. Students will be guided to read each chapter as a particular response to a specific problem or concept relating to the overall theme: that postmodernism is concerned with only one thing - the question of literature.