Mary Klages Literary Theory–Modern/Postmodern Theory & Ideologies


Literary theories have existed as long as literature has.’ Literary Theory, with the capital letters, points to sets of ideas that have greatly influenced the way we have thought about, taught, and produced scholarship on literature within colleges and universities in the past thirty to forty years. “Literary Theory’ is a big unbrealla term that covers a variety of approaches to texts (‘literary’ or not); if these approaches have anything in common, it is that all of them examine factors that shape how a text is written and how we are able to read it. ‘Literary Theory’ comes from all kinds of disciplines, including linguistics, psychology,  anthropology, philosophy, history, economics, gender studies, and political science; much of what falls under the heading ‘Literary Theory,’ as you’ll see, has little to do directly with what we think of as literature. (p. 4-5).


A special note for those of you who have been directed to this page from The Natural Law Primer. After pondering/studying the ideas presented in some of these theories, I would like to direct your attention to the study group’s philosophy page and a hotlink off of that page titled ==> Conflicting Paradigms: Traditional Logic vs. Contemporary Logic. This page contains links to excerpts taken from Dr. R.C. Sproul’s Classical Christian Apologetics which delves into the three logical principles of classical thought: The Law of Non-Contradiction, The Law of Causality, and The Basic Reliability of Sense Perception. You will also find an essay accessible from another link on that page titledThe Two Logics authored by Dr. Peter Kreeft. You may note Dr. Kreeft is another Christian thinker who has a page devoted to him, and whose work is displayed on the site.


We contend that these additional resources, when seriously considered, have the philosophical/theoretical resources and potential–if understood correctly–to successfully address, and defeat, all of the issues that these differing systems, and “non-systems,” of thought attempt to bring forward and, successfully, argue. For a more robust statement of our position-with regard to the sorts of modern & post-modern theories listed below; please reference the statement in the section just beneath the listing of theories..


Click on any of the hot linked titles below and you will be taken to what is essentially a synopsis of the differing theories and viewpoints that have been generated and given the label of literary criticism in recent history.


However, to find a more solid terrain for this kind of study you will want to look at our Literary Criticism page which will point you to some of the works Lewis produced in his activity as a literary theorist and critic. You can find out more about his work in this genera; in addition and for those of you who would like to consider a more traditional approach to the field of hermeneutics and textual analysis, please visit our How To Read a Book/How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth page.

To understand the importance Lewis attributed to the art of reading good books you may want to go to our C.S. Lewis On The Reading of Old Books page.


I have provided a hot link titled Fear and Trembling listed among the modern and post-modern studies below. The author of this work, which was the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard who was considered by almost everyone to be a kind of great-grandfather of Existentialist thought though he was a Christian theist; however, what further developed were philosophes in the modes of existentialist thought as they  proliferated the academic/intellectual landscape, which were in turn taken on (following Fredrik Nietzsche’s atheistic [God is Dead] turn) by those who were later to develop the kinds and assortment of theories you see listed below.

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                          Fear and Trembling


Humanism & Literary Theory   


                                                       Ferdinand de Saussure


Claude Levi-Strauss “The Structural Study of Myth” and Other Structuralist Ideas




Derrida and Deconstruction: “Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the   Human Sciences”                        


                                                   Psychoanalysis and Sigmund Freud


                                             Jacques Lacan  


        Theorizing Gender

                                                         Queer Theory


 Roland Barthes and The Death of the Author  


                 Feminist Theory/”The Laugh of the Medusa”–Helene Cixous


                                                                                                         Marxism and Ideology            


Louis Althusser’s “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses”



                       The Blackness of Blackness




                   The Location of Culture


                                             Foucault: Post-structuralism                       


                                      Race and Postcolonialism  






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To follow the lead of one of our site philosophers, Edward Feser, we would suggest that the theories listed above have the same kind of theoretical shortcomings as do all thinkers, and theorists, have whose orientation is found in a godless way of thinking about the natural world.  I’ve therefore adapted a statement from his book, ==> The Last Superstition, as he addresses the new atheists, with the thought of the thinkers and theories listed above.


The Last Supersition“I propose interpreting naturalism and secularism as religious phenomena. Or rather, if secularism is not precisely a religion, it is what we might call a counter-religion. It has its countersaints (Darwin, Clarence Darrow, Carl Sagan); its “Old Testament” counter-prophets, stern and forbidding, brimming with apocalyptic doom or at least pessimism (Marx, Nietzsche, Freud); and its kinder and gentler “New Testament” counter-apostles, hopeful for a realization of the Kingdom of Godlessness on earth via “progressive” educational policy and other schemes of social uplift (Dennett,  Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens – and into the bargain, each member of this foursome even has his own Gospel). It affords a sense of identity and meaning to those beholden to it, a metaphysics to interpret the world by and a value system to live by, even if all of this is little more than a negation of the sort of metaphysics and morality associated with religion: that is to say, a counter-metaphysics, a counter-morality. And yet it is also a belief system that is, as I have said, deeply irrational and immoral, indeed the very negation of reason and morality. Thus do I call it the last superstition: not merely “last” in the sense of being the superstition that remains when all the others have purportedly been abolished by it, but also “last” in the sense of being the ultimate superstition, “the mother of all superstitions.”

Dr. Edward Feser, The Last Superstition, Location 505/520 in the Digital Version.

For those who have questions and doubt whether Dr. Feser’s line of reason on this issue holds water, we would invite you to ponder the thought of Ray Comfort’s ==> The Atheist Delusion.


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