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Seminar Room: AS4/01-19

Seminar Day and Time: Tuesday 9.00 – 12.00




Critical Theory


Giorgio de Chirico: Sun Rising Over the Square (1971)

Course Web Page for the year:




On this page you will find the following information about the course EN 4242:


Course Description

Primary Texts & Secondary Texts


Relevant and Useful Websites

You can also follow these hyperlinks to web pages containing:

Lecture Notes: Contexts, Commentaries and Applications





John Phillips is the Lecturer for this course; his Faculty webpage is as follows:


John W P Phillips


His Course Website is here: The Course Website of John Phillips (with many relevant links)




This module takes a representative range of influential texts in critical theory as the basis for examining the production and historical grounds of textual meaning._ The course will focus, week by week, on certain key topics while engaged in close analysis of the main texts. The course will, in this way, investigate various theories of writing, of the reading process, of the constitution of the subject, of the role of literary texts in modern societies, and of textual transmission. The objective of the module is to provide students with resources to engage with animated, wide-ranging, and sometimes complex debates about critical approaches that emerged during the last century.





Primary Texts


Selected Texts including extracts from:


Theodore W. Adorno; Louis Althusser; Walter Benjamin; Hélene Cixous; Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari; Jacques Derrida; Michel Foucault; Martin Heidegger; Fredric Jameson; Julia Kristeva; Jacques Lacan; Karl Marx; Ferdinand de Saussure; Paul Virilio.



Secondary Texts

Barry, Peter. Beginning Theory.

Bennington, Geoff and Jacques Derrida. Jacques Derrida. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1992.

Derrida, Jacques. The Derrida Reader: Writing Performances. Ed. Julian Wolfreys. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press 1998.

Derrida, Jacques. Acts of Literature. Ed. Derek Attridge. London: Routledge, 1992.

Eagleton, Terry, ed. Ideology. Harlow: Longman, 1994.

Hamilton, Paul. Historicism. London: Routledge, 1996.

Hawkes, David. Ideology. London: Routledge, 1996.

Payne, Michael. Reading Theory. Oxford: Blackwell, 1993.

---. Reading Knowledge. Oxford: Blackwell, 1996.

Phillips, John. Contested Knowledge: A Guide to Critical Theory. London: Zed, 2000.

Wolfreys, Julian. Deconstruction•Derrida. London: Macmillan, 1998.




1. Essay. The main assessment will be an essay, to be defined by the student in consultation with the lecturer; this will constitute 40% of final grade.  Essays are to be about 3000 words in length (not including images, appendices, bibliographies).  Deadline: November 19 2011.  Students are urged to think about their essay areas as soon as possible, and to confirm them with me as soon as you know what you want to write about.

2. Class participation, including group presentation: 10% of final grade.

3. Examination: two questions, two hours, forming 50% of the final grade.  This will be an open book examination – students are allowed to bring in any material they wish.






Oxford English Dictionary: Your most important resource

General Literary Theory and Criticism guides:

This link will take you to the first of five pages of general literary theory and criticism guides, listed in rough alphabetical order of page titles._ The links are constantly being updated._ Please feel free to alert me to dead links as well as to relevant and interesting websites and I will, naturally, acknowledge your input.

JWP’s Web Links:

Here you will find the links page attached to my personal website._ The links could be of use to anyone interested in critical and cultural theory, modernism and postmodernism, continental philosophy and other related topics. You will also find links to web dictionaries, encyclopedias and glossaries.

The Derrida Pages

My gradually developing website dedicated to the work of Jacques Derrida, including commentaries, articles, definitions and other related paraphernalia.

Links to internet pages dedicated to the works of Jacques Derrida:

The page is divided into three parts:


                                           Online Texts

                                           Secondary Sources

For an alternative commentary:


“There is nothing outside the text”

What, really, is the meaning of this enigmatic sentence?





Return to the Course Website of JWP