Feb 19, 2010, 2:22 PM
Post #1396 of 2090
I don't think that theory itself is that bad, but I do think that how we "do" theory needs some rethinking. Typically, when people "do" theory in English departments, it means glossing one or more "theoretical" texts, and then using that gloss to gloss one or more "literary" texts. This process smacks of middle-man corporatism, in that the author is just throwing more barriers between the reader and the primary text. The scholar controls the meaning of the theoretical text(s), which never is straightforward to begin with, and uses that questionable meaning to control the meaning of the literary text(s), which, due to its derivative nature, often results in unsupported, underarticulated off-the-map claims and a heavy reliance on jargon and overspecialized shorthand in place of a cogent, accessible discourse.
Of course, that I don't specialize in theory makes my authority questionable at best, especially when it comes to potential bias, but I *have* published scholarly articles in both theory and literature in addition to publishing creative work, so I think I have a unique insight into the relationship between what is often conceptualized as antithetical: creative and literary focuses. Each could learn from the other. Creative writers could stand to be better critics, while critics could stand to be better writers.