In Nicoletta Pireddu (ed.), Reframing Critical, Literary, and Cultural Theories: Thought on the Edge. Springer Verlag. pp. 91-118 (2018)

Before reinventing literary theory for the twenty-first century, we should consider what theory might do in principle. Both the functions of theory and its targets in literary study are often understood too narrowly. This chapter isolates three broad functions for theorization: description and explanation, both general and particular ; ethical-political or esthetic evaluation; and production of practical effects. From here, the chapter takes up the target orientations of literary study, organizing them into literature-oriented study and world-oriented study. These broadened conceptions of the functions of theory and the orientations of literary study open up potentially valuable research programs beyond the theoretical practices of recent decades.
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DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-89990-9_4
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