Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: June 23, 2021, 6:24 a.m. Humanist 35.103 - theory

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 35, No. 103.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
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    [1]    From: <>
           Subject: organic intellectuals and unarticulated theory (19)

    [2]    From: Willard McCarty <>
           Subject: sources on 'theory' (45)

        Date: 2021-06-22 15:34:04+00:00
        From: <>
        Subject: organic intellectuals and unarticulated theory


I am betraying a certain political inclination but shouldn’t “theory” be thought
in conjunction with “praxis”? Theory is a thinking about practice and in
typically recursive fashion theory about theory is meta-theory.

Every practice has a theory although it may not be articulated.

Thinking about articulation leads me to ponder how much the work of digital
humanists is akin to Gramsci’s organic intellectuals.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~
François Lachance
Wannabe Professor of Theoretical and Applied Rhetoric

to think is often to sort, to store and to shuffle: humble, embodied tasks

        Date: 2021-06-23 05:18:35+00:00
        From: Willard McCarty <>
        Subject: sources on 'theory'

I've been collecting on the topic of 'theory'. Here's what I have so far:

Isaiah Berlin, History and Theory: The Concept of Scientific History (1960)
Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss, Discovery of Grounded Theory (1967)
Raymond Williams, 'Theory', in Keywords: A vocabulary of culture and
society (1976)
E. P. Thompson, The Poverty of Theory: or an Orrery of Errors (1978)
Steven Knapp and Walter Benn Michaels, Against Theory (1982)
Terry Eagleton, Literary Theory, An Introduction (1983)
Hans-Georg Gadamer, Lob der Theorie [Praise of Theory, 1998] (1983)
Jonathan Culler, Literary Theory, a Very Short Introduction (1997)
Lynn Hejinian, The Language of Inquiry (2000)
Terry Eagleton, After Theory (2003)
Peter Galison, Specific theory (2004)
Ian Hunter, The History of Theory (2006)
Andrew Chesterman, On the Idea of a Theory (2007)
Stephan Trüby and Natasha Fewtrell, Tausendundeine Theorie (2017)
Adam Schatz, ed., The Meaninglessness of Meaning: Writing about the
theory wars in the London Review of Books (2020)

and, unsurprisingly, the very helpful entry from the Oxford English

The above includes only one entry for 'theory' in the natural sciences
and very little from the social sciences. For the humanities, history
and literary studies predominate. It does do enough, I think, for what
Culler calls "just plain ‘theory’".

But I should explain the objective, that is, mine: to come up with the
smallest possible list of essays that would thoroughly relativise the
notion of 'theory' -- that would encourage us to think again, and
better, about this word.

Contributions welcome, also suggestions arguing against including
anything I've listed above.


Willard McCarty,
Professor emeritus, King's College London;
Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews;  Humanist

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