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Modern European Criticism and Theory

A Critical Guide

Edited by Julian Wolfreys

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Modern European Criticism and Theory offers the reader a comprehensive critical overview of the widespread and profound contest of ideas within European 'theory'. The book focuses primarily on the thought of major voices in poetics, philosophy, linguistics, and psychoanalysis, as well as in literary and cultural studies from the Enlightenment to the present day.

Examining how conceptions of subjectivity, identity and gender have been questioned, the more than 50 essays written by acknowledged experts in their fields critically assess the ways in which we think, see, and act in the world, as well as the ways in which we represent such thought psychologically, politically, and culturally.

A further reading list accompanies each chapter.

Key Features:

  • Breadth of coverage from Descartes and Spinoza to Derrida, Lyotard and Zizek; from Phenomenology to French Feminisms and Psychoanalytic Literary Criticism.
  • Focus on the history of modern criticism.
  • Accessibly written.
  • Theoretical debates are set in full historical, cultural and philosophical contexts.


1. Rene Descartes and Baruch Spinoza: Beginnings, Warren Montag
2. Immanuel Kant and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Jacques Lazra
3. Johann Christian Friedrich Hölderlin, Véronique M. Fóti
4. Karl Marx, Robert C. Holub
5. Charles Baudelaire and Stéphane Mallarmé, Elizabeth Constable
6. Friedrich Nietzsche, Robert C. Holub
7. Sigmund Freud, Juliet Flower MacCannell
8. Ferdinand de Saussure and Structural Linguistics, Kenneth Womack
9. Edmund Husserl, Claire Colebrook
10. Phenomenology, Ullrich Michael Haase
11. Gaston Bachelard and George Canguilhem: Epistemology in France, Alison Ross and Amir Ahmadi
12. Jean Paulhan and/versus Francis Ponge, Jan Baetens
13. György Lukács, Mitchell R. Lewis
14. Russian Formalism, the Moscow Linguistics Circle, and Prague Structuralism: Boris Eichenbaum, Jan Mukarovsky, Victor Shklovsky, Yuri Tynyanov, Roman Jakobson, Kenneth Womack
15. Ludwig Wittgenstein, William Flesch
16. Martin Heidegger, Claire Colebrook
17. Antonio Gramsci, Stephen Shapiro
18. Walter Benjamin, Jeremy Tambling
19. Reception Theory: Roman Ingarden, Hans-Georg Gadamer and the Geneva School, Luke Ferretter
20. The Frankfurt School, the Marxist Tradition, Culture and Critical Thinking: Max Horkheimer, Herbert Marcuse, Theodor Adorno, Jürgen Habermas, Kenneth Surin
21. Mikhail Bakhtin, R. Brandon Kershner
22. Georges Bataille and Maurice Blanchot, Arkady Plotnitsky
23. Bertolt Brecht, Loren Kruger
24. Jacques Lacan, Juliet Flower MacCannell
25. The Reception of Hegel and Heidegger in France: Alexandre Kojève, John Hyppolite, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Jean Michel Rabaté
26. Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and Existentialism, Mark Currie
27. Emmanuel Levinas, Kevin Hart
28. Simone de Beauvoir and French Feminism, Karen Green
29. Claude Lévi-Strauss, Boris Wiseman
30. Jean Genet, Alain-Michel Rocheleau
31. Paul Ricoeur, Martin McQuillan
32. Roland Barthes, Nick Mansfield
33. French Structuralism: A. J. Greimas, Tzvetan Todorov and Gérard Genette, Dirk de Geest
34. Louis Althusser and his Circle, Warren Montag
35. Reception Theory and Reader-Response: Hans-Robert Jauss, Wolfgang Iser, and the School of Konstanz, Jeremy Lane
36. Jean-François Lyotard and Jean Baudrillard: The Suspicion of Metanarratives, Garry Leonard
37. The Social and the Cultural: Michel de Certeau, Pierre Bourdieu and Louis Marin, Brian Niro
38. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Claire Colebrook
39. Michel Foucault, John Brannigan
40. Jacques Derrida, Kevin Hart
41. Luce Irigaray, Ewa Ziarek
42. Christian Metz, Marcia Butzel
43. Guy Debord and the Situationist International, Lynn A. Higgins
44. Umberto Eco, SunHee Kim Gertz
45. Modernities: Paul Virilio, Gianni Vattimo, Giorgio Agamben, David Punter
46. Hélène Cixous, Juliet Flower MacCannell
47. Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancy, Heesok Chang
48. Julia Kristeva, Joan Brandt
49. Slavoj Zizek, Michael Walsh
50. Cahiers du Cinéma, Maureen Turim
51. Critical Fictions: Experiments in Writing from Le Noveau Roman to the Oulipo, Jean Baetens
52. Tel Quel, Jean-Michel Rabaté
53. Other French Feminisms: Sarah Kofman, Monique Wittig, Michèle Le Doeuff, Nicole Fluhr
54. Psychoanalytic Literary Criticism in France, Nicholas T. Rand

About the Author

Julian Wolfeys is Professor of English Literature at the University of Portsmouth, where he is also Director of the Centre for Studies in LIterature. He is author and editor of more than 40 books on nineteenth- and twentieth-century English literature and literary theory. Most recently he has published Dickens’s London and The Derrida Wordbook, both with Edinburgh University Press. He recently published his first novel, Silent Music.