ENGL 300 - Lecture 25 - The End of Theory?; Neo-Pragmatism

Lecture 25 - The End of Theory?; Neo-Pragmatism


In this lecture, Professor Paul Fry takes on Knapp and Michaels's influential article, "Against Theory." The historical context of the piece is given and key aspects of the theorists' critical orientations, specifically their neo-pragmatism, are defined. A lengthy discussion of the relationships between, on the one hand, intention and meaning and, on the other hand, language and speech follows with reference to Saussure, deconstruction, and Russian formalism. Knapp and Michaels's use of Wordsworth's "A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal" to explore the limits of meaning and intention is examined in depth. Ultimately, the case is made, using issues subject to dispute in Knapp and Michaels, that theory is a useful and necessary tool in literary studies.


Knapp, Steven and Walter Benn Michaels. "Against Theory." In Against Theory: Literary Studies and the New Pragmatism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press Journals, 1985

Course Media





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