This review originally appeared in Jason Jewell is the chairman of the Department of Humanities at Faulkner University.
His research interests include religion and politics in early modern Britain, the Christian philosophy of history, and the intersection of Christianity and culture.
Literary criticism is a field that mystifies many people.
Although its goal of evaluating and commenting on works of literature is straightforward enough, the theories that inform the work of many critics often muddy the waters.
"Literary theory" is the body of ideas and methods we use in the practical reading of literature.
By literary theory we refer not to the meaning of a work of literature but to the theories that reveal what literature can mean.
It’s little wonder that some have blamed literary critics for destroying their love of literature.
For decades, Marxist theory has occupied a preeminent place in the field of literary criticism.
(I recall one of my conventionally liberal history professor’s stating around the year 2000 that “Marxism is dead everywhere except in English departments.”) The Marxist critic views works of literature, as well as those works’ forms and meanings, as products of particular social institutions that reflect a particular ideology.
The Marxist critic evaluates these works according to how “progressive” they are.