23rd Feb 2015 5:00pm-6:30pm
C122, Checkland Building, Falmer Campus
Peter Barry, Professor of English, Aberystwyth University
'The Ends of Theory'
The word ‘ends’ signifies both endings and purposes, so this talk asks two questions, which are – What is literary theory for? and Is it over? The talk already exists as a chapter (in Brazilian-Portuguese) which ends with a textual crux from Henry James's short story 'The Author of Beltraffio'. The same crux is used in the talk, so if anyone had read the story beforehand that would be helpful, but by no means essential, as I will briefly outline its slightly-ludicrous plot.
For the talk, I will start at the end (with the Jamesian crux), and then move backwards to the beginning, passing through significant landmarks in the time-line of literary theory, including its oft-proclaimed ‘end’ in the late 1990s, its ‘triumph’ in the late 80s, and its ‘theory wars’ from the late 70s. Then, shifting to a more confessional mode (as all late-career theorists do), I say what made me become a theorist, and end with the moment when I first heard about theory, felt its lack, and imagined what it would do for me.
Professor of English at Aberystwyth University, Peter Barry is the author of Contemporary British Poetry and the City (2000), Beginning Theory (1995, 2002, 2009), English in Practice (2003), Poetry Wars: British Poetry of the 1970s and the Battle of Earls Court (2006), Literature in Contexts (2007), and Reading Poetry (2014). His current monograph Continuing Theory is forthcoming from Routledge. He is currently Principle Investigator for a three-year Leverhulme Research Project, 'Devolved Voices,' on the development of Welsh poetry in English since 1997.
For further information, please contact: J.Wrighton@brighton.ac.uk