Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: June 24, 2021, 8:30 a.m. Humanist 35.108 - theory

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 35, No. 108.
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        Date: 2021-06-23 05:58:29+00:00
        From: William L. Benzon <>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 35.103: theory

One thing about “theory” Willard. It’s been a long time since the phrase
“literary theory” meant “theory about literary texts and processes” in the way
that, say, “biological theory” means “theory about biological objects and
processes.” Literary theory had that meaning back in the ancient days of, say,
Welleck and Warren, Theory of Literature.

These days literary theory is something else entirely. It’s the use of some
other body of knowledge – philosophy of one kind or another, some flavor of
psychoanalysis, or some other psychology, social theory, whatever – as a vehicle
for interpreting the meaning of literary texts. Literary theory in this sense
does not propose theoretical conceptions about texts or processes. It offers
propositions about the worlds depicted in texts. Literary theory is just a body
of interpretive recipes.

> On Jun 23, 2021, at 1:24 AM, Humanist <> wrote:
> 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.

Bill Benzon

917-717-9841 <> <>
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