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Literary and cultural theory: a glossary of terms, concepts, and motifs

Literary and cultural theory: a glossary of terms, concepts, and motifs

Wolfreys, Julian, 1958-

This is a reference guide for students of literary and cultural studies, grappling with the array of complex concepts that constitute literary and cultural theory

Paperback, Hardback, Book. English.
Published Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2002
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Available: Newton Park

  • Newton Park – One available in Main Collection 803/WOL

    Barcode Shelfmark Loan type Status
    00228920 Main Collection 803/WOL Standard Available


Statement of responsibility: Julian Wolfreys
ISBN: 0333960580, 0333960599, 9780333960585, 9780333960592
Intended audience: Specialized.
Physical Description: 224p. ; 24 cm.
Subject: Criticism.; Culture Philosophy.; Literary Criticism; Literature History and criticism Theory, etc.


  1. Preface
  2. Acknowledgements
  3. Critical Keywords
  4. Abjection
  5. Aesthetics
  6. Alterity
  7. Aporia
  8. Carnival/Carnivalesque
  9. Class
  10. Culture
  11. Deconstruction
  12. Desire
  13. Difference/Différance
  14. Discourse
  15. Event
  16. Gender
  17. Hegemony
  18. Hyperreality
  19. Hypertext
  20. I/dentity
  21. Ideology
  22. Imaginary-Symbolic-Real
  23. Interpellation
  24. Intertextuality
  25. Iterability/Iteration
  26. Jouissance
  27. Khora/Chora
  28. Literature
  29. Materialism/Materiality
  30. Modernism
  31. Myth/ology
  32. Narrative/Narration
  33. Other
  34. Overdetermination
  35. Performativity
  36. Postmodernity/Postmodernism
  37. Power
  38. Queer
  39. Race
  40. Reader/Reading
  41. Sexuality/Sexual Difference
  42. Simulacrum/Simulation
  43. Subject/ivity
  44. Uncanny
  45. Unconscious
  46. Writing
  47. Afterwords: Literary and Cultural Theory: The Contested Ground of Critical Language, or Terms, Concepts, and Motifs
  48. Works Cited
  49. Index

Author note

JULIAN WOLFREYS is Professor of Victorian Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of Florida.


This book is an invaluable reference guide for students of literary and cultural studies which introduces over forty of the complex terms, motifs and concepts in literary and cultural theory today.

Critical Keywords in Literary and Cultural Theory
- gives students a brief introduction to each concept together with short quotations from the work of key thinkers and critics to stimulate discussion and guide genuine comprehension.
- supplies helpful glosses and annotations for each term, concept or keyword which is discussed
- offers reflective, practical questions at the end of each entry to direct the student to consider a particular aspect of the quotations and the concept they address
- provides explanatory notes and bibliographies to aid further research

This essential volume is ideal as both a dip-in reference book and a guide to literary theory for practical classroom use.


'For the adventure of a lifetime, pick a letter - any letter. Julian Wolfreys' Critical Keywords in Literary and Cultural Theory offers the most brilliant, generously conceived, and self-effacing invitation to roar and glide in literary and cultural theory I know. It is an anti-dictionary, increasing meaning rather than containing it, thus providing us with opportunities to explore rather than reasons to stop thinking. Look up 'class,' or 'queer,' or 'gender,' or 'writing,' or any other of the 43 terms, and you find yourself opening to a whole range of possibilities, a stimulating education you can conduct yourself. I know of no finer avenue into modern thought, wonderful both for new visitors and for those who imagine they know the terrain.' - James R. Kincaid, Aerol Arnold Professor of English, University of Southern California