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Imagination in Theory. Essays on Culture and Writing

  • ID: 2249264
  • Book
  • December 1998
  • Region: Global
  • 248 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
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This new book draws together the work of a leading social theorist who has devoted herself to examining the intersection of cultural studies, social theory, feminism, and literary theory.

Imagination in Theory contains both new and published work focusing on Barrett′s long–standing interest in cultural questions, and shows how this informs her analysis of current developments in social and feminist theory. The essays challenge disciplinary boundaries, and Barrett uses her background as a specialist in literature to "translate" across the barriers between the humanities and social sciences, raising a number of important – and sometimes controversial – issues.

Taking culture, theory and writing as its themes, the book explores these through work on aesthetics, cultural politics, subjectivity, developments in feminist thought, psychoanalysis, and some new ideas on cultural studies and social theory. The book ends with a strikingly original comparison of the ideas of Virginia Woolf and Michel Foucault which is used to pose questions about the differences and similarities between fiction and theory.

This exciting book will be widely read by students and academics in cultural theory, social theory, feminism and literary theory.

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1. Introduction: Culture, Theory, Writing.

2. Words and Things.

3. Virginia Woolf: Subjectivity and Politics.

4. Aesthetics and Cultural Criticism.

5. Feminism and Cultural Politics.

6. The Concept of ′Difference′.

7. Psychoanalyses and Feminisms.

8. Rethinking the Marxist/Feminist Encounter.

9. Stuart Hall and Cultural Studies.

10. Human Nature.

11. Virginia Woolf Meets Michel Foucault.


Select Bibliography.


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"In this lucid book, Barrett engages timely issues in great range and depth: humanism, anti–humanism, and ecological responsibility; the disciplinary constitution of objects of study and the writerliness of theory; the relationship of politics and aspiration. Contesting all reductionisms, Michele Barrett is acutely aware of but not paralysed by her own "disciplinary cathexis". She supplements Marxism, interacts with post–structuralism, situates postmodernism in postmodernity, and remains firmly focused on historical change within feminism. She brings us all the way into popular culture –
Star Trek and Ken Follett – and ends with a virtuoso encounter between Virginia Woolf and Michel Foucault."
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

"Imagination has not been contemporary social theory′s strongest suit. Michele Barrett is one of the few theorists who has consistently argued for thee importance of this interface and in these elegantly written, lucidly formulated, vigorously argued essays on a variety of cognate themes, she develops and enlarges her exploration of this complex terrain of enquiry." Stuart Hall

"In this astute and lively book, Michèle Barrett takes the reader on a memorable and informed trip through the highs and lows of twentieth–century culture and its analysis. Framed by two challenging and entertaining essays on Virginia Woolf – as she encountered Freud and might have encountered Foucault – Imagination in Theory explores the dynamism of the century–association of literature and theory, and provides one of the best arguments for the productive energy of that alliance." Cora Kaplan

"She writes with clarity and elegance about complex issues and is a pleasure to read. This is a useful collection of her interdisciplinary work for both the uninitiated and those already acquainted with her fascination for the juncture between culture, creativity, theorizing and sociology." Melanie Mauthner, Feminist Theory.

"Another impressive book, Imagination in Theory which contains eleven engaging essays that take culture, theory and writing as themes." Years Work in Critical Cultural Theory

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