Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory – Learning Different Ways to View Reading

Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory was a book required for my literary criticism class in the spring semester of 2015. Starting out, this book was easy to understand; however, as time went on, this book got harder to understand. There were some theories that I understood well enough that there was little need for an explanation in class. Other theories, like some that we didn’t go over, an explanation was needed. This has nothing to do with the author’s work. Some theories are just difficult to understand and need someone to help explain the confusing parts. I am sure that the author, Peter Barry, could explain in person anything that was found to be confusing, but Barry cannot talk personally with every person that is reading his book for the first time.

Would this book be less confusing if I had already known some facts about the theories? Probably not. If I had even just a small background in the subjects discussed, it probably would have been easier to understand. Sadly, this is the first book I have ever read on the subject. A little confusion is expected.

Barry’s start to his book helped to get me interested in what I was about to learn. It was able to capture and maintain the interest of a college student. I even went back and read the chapters that were skipped during the course. During the school year I skimmed or skipped over the stop and thinks. When I was reading the skipped over chapters I read the stop and think sections. They were helpful in the understanding of whatever theory I happened to be reading over.

While some things were confusing to me, some people would probably be able to read this with ease. Even if these people were like me and had no background in the theories, it is possible that they could understand better. Each person is different in this aspect. I do believe that if I had focused a bit more on what I was reading, I too would have less trouble.

Barry, in my opinion, did an excellent job in trying to help others to understand these theories and how to apply them. It is excellent for any class that is going over this, such as a literary criticism class and for anyone that is good with being able to learn things on their own.


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