Written in concise and clear language, this book offers an historical overview of literary criticism and theory throughout the twentieth century along with a close analysis of some of the most important and commonly taught texts from the period. Provides an accessible introduction to modern literary theory and criticism Places various modes of criticism within their historical and intellectual contexts Offers close readings of some of the major critical texts of the period Explores the works of a diverse group of 20th-century writers, including Babbitt, Woolf, Bakhtin, Heidegger, Lacan, Derrida, Judith Butler, Zizek, Nussbaum, Negri and Hardt Covers formalism, psychoanalysis, structuralism, deconstruction, Marxism, feminism, reader-response criticism, historicism, gender studies, cultural studies, and film theory 'Modern Literary Criticism and Theory: A History' is the most comprehensive account of modern criticism and theory available in the English language. It provides a historical survey of the various modes of literary criticism developed in the twentieth century. It is distinguished from other texts in the field not only by providing the larger historical contexts of modern critical works, but also by engaging in close readings of some of the major and commonly taught texts, offering clear, detailed, and philosophically informed explanations of difficult works. This broadly chronological narrative explores the works of a diverse group of twentieth-century writers - from Irving Babbitt and T. S. Eliot through Simone de Beauvoir and Martin Heidegger to Jacques Derrida, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Judith Butler, Slavoj Zižek, and Elaine Scarry. It stresses the continuity and connections between the various critical approaches of formalism, psychoanalysis, structuralism, deconstruction, Marxism, feminism, gender studies, reader-response and reception theory, historicism, cultural studies, and film theory, as well as the new emphases on aestheticism and liberalism. An invaluable resource for students and teachers at all levels, this book will also appeal to anyone interested in modern literature and culture.