The Pretensions of Theory, the Necessity of Pluralism, and Terminological Promiscuity



Given the polemic atmosphere, not to mention pretentiousness, now surrounding the very phrase “literary theory,” some clarification is in order. As far back as 1918, H. L. Mencken found it intriguing when literary criticism went beyond the criticism of literature and began to criticize the modes of criticism themselves. He would presumably have found it even more intriguing that the field has in recent years been heavily occupied with theories of literary theory itself, although, having noticed that “a professor must have a theory, as a dog must have fleas” (5), he would not have been surprised.


Literary Criticism Intended Meaning Literary Text Authorial Intention Literary Commentary 
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Copyright information

© Wendell V. Harris 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pennsylvania State UniversityUSA

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