Against Theory

  title={Against Theory},
  author={Steven K Knapp and Walter Benn Michaels},
  journal={Critical Inquiry},
  pages={723 - 742}
By "theory" we mean a special project in literary criticism: the attempt to govern interpretations of particular texts by appealing to an account of interpretation in general. The term is sometimes applied to literary subjects with no direct bearing on the interpretation of individual works, such as narratology, stylistics, and prosody. Despite their generality, however, these subjects seem to us essentially empirical, and our argument against theory will not apply to them. Contemporary theory… 

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  • K. Kroeber
  • History, Art
    PMLA/Publications of the Modern Language Association of America
  • 1984
I was appalled by the invitation to write this essay. Although I have always urged students to become aware of the way they read, of why they read in that silly fashion, and of how they might read

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