CATHERINE BELSEY CRITICAL PRACTICE PDF

Read preview Article excerpt IT ALL BEGAN WITH Critical Practice, the New Accents volume that introduced Catherine Belsey to an international audience and laid out what were to become some of the signature features of her work: namely, a passionate embrace of theoretical inquiry, a strong antipathy to the moralizing and the empiricism that imbued one strand of twentieth-century British criticism, and an intellectual voraciousness that refused to be tethered to a particular genre or period. Her critical range of reference is equally capacious; Aristotle, Sidney, Kant, Hegel, Freud, Lacan, Althusser, Machery, Leavis, Fish, Saussure--she has things to say about all of them, and does, in a voice at once judicious and, just occasionally, acerbic. This period of intellectual ferment, contestation, and discovery has left its mark on all her work. Nonetheless, postructuralist understandings of language and subjectivity form the bedrock of her critical practice, which I will unpack in what follows. Beginnings The Belsey of registers all the excitement members of her and my generation felt at being liberated by French theory from many of the common sense notions that had dominated Anglo-American criticism in the preceding decades.

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Or do we, instead, make meaning in the practice of reading itself? If so, what part do our own values play in the process of interpretation? And what is the role of the text? Catherine Belsey considers What is poststructuralist theory, and what difference does it make to literary criticism?

Catherine Belsey considers these and other questions concerning the relations between human beings and language, readers and texts, writing and cultural politics. Assuming no prior knowledge of poststructuralism, Critical Practice guides the reader confidently through the maze of contemporary theory.

It simply and lucidly explains the views of key figures such as Louis Althusser, Roland Barthes, Jacques Lacan and Jacques Derrida, and shows their theories at work in readings of familiar literary texts. Critical Practice argues that theory matters, because it makes a difference to what we do when we read, opening up new possibilities for literary and cultural analysis. Poststructuralism, in conjunction with psychoanalysis and deconstruction, makes radical change to the way we read both a priority and a possibility.

With a new chapter, updated guidance on further reading and revisions throughout, this second edition of Critical Practice is the ideal guide to the present and future of literary studies.

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Whatever its form, argues Belsey, pleasure is the neglected child of cultural criticism. This is not to say that she does not recognize certain strengths and even pleasures in the modes of criticism examined; on the contrary, Belsey takes pains to indicate what the strengths of these approaches are, before outlining what she sees as their limitations. On the contrary, they tend to read the literary text primarily as an instance of the dominant ideology of its period. Here she gives the answer to the question of wherein lies the pleasure that has been neglected: it is to be found in loss.

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The Critical Practice of Catherine Belsey

Or do we, instead, make meaning in the practice of reading itself? If so, what part do our own values play in the process of interpretation? And what is the role of the text? Catherine Belsey considers What is poststructuralist theory, and what difference does it make to literary criticism?

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Critical Practice

Could we approach novels, plays and poems differently in the future? The book is addressed to reading groups, students, teachers, reviewers — and anyone who enjoys a good read. All you ever wanted to know about Barthes, Foucault, Lacan, Derrida and the rest, as well as the difference their insights make to our ideas about language and culture. Have we sufficiently challenged old assumptions about how we interpret written works? The book argues that, for better or worse, reading enlists desire. A Future for Criticism is published by Wiley-Blackwell Critical Practice Critical Practice effectively wrote itself at a time when French theory was seen as threatening in both senses: hard to understand and also likely to undermine established ways of reading.

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