Cover image for The future of theory
The future of theory
Rabaté, Jean-Michel, 1949-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Oxford, UK ; Malden, MA : Blackwell Pub., [2002]

Physical Description:
v, 170 pages ; 24 cm.
Subject Term:

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B842 .R33 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In this controversial manifesto, Jean-Michel Rabat#65533; addresses current anxieties about the future of literary and cultural theory and proposes that it still has a crucial role to play.

Author Notes

Jean-Michel Rabate is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Does theory as a human activity organize consciousness, eviscerate ingenuity, supplant hysteria, or simply limn the borders of knowledge? Drawing on the works of ancient, modern, and contemporary philosophers, psychiatry's founders, and experimental literary luminaries, Rabat takes the reader through arguments for and against each of these stances. The differences between theorizing about theory and realizing theory's powers are carefully and accessibly constructed through discussions of 20th-century Western intellectual activity and publishing. Theory, Rabate decides, must be necessarily posited in the future, a future built of texts and dialogs and, since James Joyce, dialogs within texts. Moving nimbly from Thales to Heidegger, from Charcot and Freud to Barthes and Sartre, to Paglia and Derrida, Rabate realizes the very arguments he makes, forcing the reader to look ahead rather than position his or her awareness from behind or even within theory. As with other books in this publisher's series, the intent is to engage the general educated public in a discussion of meaningful concepts, and Rabate succeeds excellently. For all public and academic collections. Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley P.L., CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Theory in terms of both humanistic, intellectual contemplation and description and discussion of the city (the polis with its politics, justice, environment, bioethics, history, and so on) has been around since the beginning of Western civilization. A concurrent concern has always been how it develops, changes, and wears the clothing of new forms, e.g., in the work of Thomas Carlyle, especially Sartor Resartus. Rabate traces the history of theory through analysis of the ideas of Plato, Aristotle, Hegel, Joyce, Poe, Sartre, Lacan, Foucault, Derrida, Levi-Strauss, Freud, Paglia, et al. Recognizing that one cannot escape the implications and influences of historical guides--"piles of layered discourses"--Rabate provides a list of the "current pedagogy of literary theory": "Formalism, Structuralism, Psychoanalysis, Marxism, and Postmodernism are commonly relayed by Deconstruction, Feminism, Gender Studies, Queer Theory, New Historicism, Ethnic Studies, and Postcolonial Studies...." Reading the future, Rebate presents a subjective list of ten schools of thought that will stimulate difficult questions and observations and be a guide as to what and how one thinks and to what and how one reads. This critical list involves culture, technology, diaspora, ethics, sufferings, genetics, science and texts, the "sacred," racial hybridity, and translations. This clearly written, well-documented study will serve graduate students, faculty, and researchers. W. B. Warde Jr. University of North Texas

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
1 Genealogy One: Hegel's Plaguep. 21
2 Genealogy Two: The Avant-Garde at Theory's High Tidep. 47
3 Theory, Science, Technologyp. 93
4 Theory Not of Literature But as Literaturep. 117
Conclusionp. 141
Notesp. 151
Indexp. 164