This book offers a unique combination of English, European, feminist and "new writing" or "Commonwealth" perspectives upon literary studies from the 1920s to the 1980s. It is designed to enable students to gain an understanding of the main theoretical issues involved in the study of modern literary texts - chiefly but not exclusively in English. It includes the views of leading critics and theorists such as Marilyn Butler, Frank Kermode, Helene Cixous and Edward Said, as well as the originating voices of Wole Soyinka, Toni Morrison, Seamus Heaney and Virginia Woolf, and focuses on major critical topics including genre, interpretation, history and criticism, gender, race and the notion of "Englishness". This approach derives from a perceived change in what constitutes "English Literature" in a period of British imperial decline and the rise of a radical, questioning/critical and literary practice at home and abroad. The more abstract and abstruse/contemporary critics are eschewed in favour of extracts of sufficient length, force and clarity to offer relative newcomers the opportunity of engaging with a wide range of current issues. The book provides both an informed critical awareness of the debates likely to dominate discussions of literature in the 1990s as well as a major contribution to these debates.
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