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Literary Theory: Home

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The criteria for the inclusion of works in Literary Theory seek to reflect the diverse material and interests encompassed by the history of literary theory and criticism. In addition to works written in English, the database includes works which were originally written in other languages but which have had a significant bearing on English and American traditions of theory and criticism, or which have influenced contemporary theoretical debate in the English-speaking world. All works in the database appear in English.

Among its contents, the database includes:

  • formal treatises on criticism and aesthetics
  • discourses on the character or practice of specific genres
  • theories of imagination, genius and taste
  • literary biography, criticism and literary history that expresses important general arguments and precepts
  • literary prefaces and dedications
  • rhetorical treatises
  • poetry which expresses or implies rules of composition or standards of judgement
  • theoretical works in disciplines other than English literature which have had a major influence on literary theory

Editions and Texts

The principles guiding the choice of editions are as follows:

  • For out-of-copyright material, early printed texts, mainly first editions, are generally used. Where texts have been revised by their author after their first appearance in print and later republished, the last revised edition is generally used. Where the quality of early editions or translations has been deemed unacceptable by the editorial board later editions have been preferred.
  • Where no early out-of-copyright edition of an essential work exists, a modern text will be used
  • For copyright works, the best available edition will be chosen.
  • Images and notes that are integral to the text have been included.