In Search of Authority is the most engaging introduction to literary theory available today.
This is the third edition of a book that has been widely used to introduce undergraduates to the field of literary theory. Its distinctive quality is the way in which it makes complex literary theories, such as structuralism, deconstruction, and post-modernism, accessible to students by relating these theories to students’ own enjoyment in reading literature. Each theory is illustrated by several applications of the theory to well-known literary works.
Based on a reader-response approach to literature, In Search of Authority begins with an up-to-date account of the status of literary theory in the 21st century, including a response to recent debates about the “post-theory” question. It concludes with a discussion of how an understanding of literary theory can lead to the empowerment of the individual reader, and of how the authority of the professor can be gradually transferred to the student.
This third edition has been revised and updated throughout. Each chapter ends with several questions to help students check their understanding of the key ideas in the chapter.
“In Search of Authority is the best discussion I know for giving our students a theoretical framework in which to think. The study questions, new to this edition, go right to the heart of key issues.” — Jeffrey R. Smitten, Utah State University
“The appeal of this book, and its distinctiveness, lie in the genuinely reader-friendly nature of the author’s arguments and style.” — TLS
“Finally, a literary theory primer with a mind of its own, a language that’s accessible, and a voice that’s engaging!” — Fred Gardaphe, Columbia College, Chicago
“Bonnycastle’s fluid commentary and consistently generous understanding make this an excellent introduction to literary theory.” — Terry Goldie, York University