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On the Rise of Theory: Promises, Shortcomings
and the Place of Literature

Rio de Janeiro University

The essay characterizes Theory as a new, semi-autonomous and intransitive discursive formation. Its utterly contradictory nature is presented through Theory’s promises of freedom in relation to objects of study, approaches and subjective positions. These promises, however, are not fulfilled, and must coexist with their opposites: narrow horizons of things, methodologies and public debates. The text ends with considerations on the place of literature in Theoretical discourse. And again, a contradiction can be seen at work, for if Theory does put literature in a state of crisis, all important Theoreticians have excelled in literary readings.

Theory; literary theory; cultural studies; crisis of literature; capitalism; master narratives; institutions of knowledge; dialectics; dissolution of disciplinary boundaries


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