Literary theory and the postmodern turn

Kelli McGraw

The following is an extract from my PhD thesis, part of a series I am publishing on this blog discussing the background of some contested territory in English curriculum.

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Literary theory and the postmodern turn

As explained [previously], critical reading was one of the significant additions to the study of texts in post-1960s English curriculum, and one that came about as a means for problematising subjectivities, usually through the analysis of dominant discourses in texts and the ways in which these might operate to suppress or devalue marginalised discourses. One of the tools for such analyses is the engagement with various literary theories and the method of ‘reading’ a text through certain theoretical lenses:

Feminist and post-colonial readings and writings have called into question the Leavisite canon’s assumptions of cultural and moral excellence, its view of literature and its promotion of particular ways of reading…

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