Some Dictionaries of Literary Theory and Related Areas
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An earlier version of this bibiliography was compiled for a seminar at Rutgers (Introduction to Literary Theory, Fall 1991 and 1992). The fourth word in the title is deliberate. It is worth distinguishing, I think, between "literary" and "critical" theory. "Critical theory" was the Frankfurt School's name for what it was doing (see the articles on the Frankfurt School in Makaryk and in Groden and Kreiswirth). Probably the existence of the expression "literary criticism" led to the use of "critical theory" as a (more powerful?) synonym for "literary theory." ¶ The second word in the title means what it says. This bibliography does not include surveys and anthologies of literary theory. For lists of these, see the prefaces to Hawthorn and to Orr. ¶ My favorites amongst the literary-theoretical dictionaries below: for a short one, Baldick; for a long one, Makaryk. I am less clear about the linguistic ones. I tried to limit myelf to those that seemed useful to literary scholars. ¶ The origin of this bibiliography explains the preponderance of works in French and English. I would be grateful for indications of similar dictionaries in other languages, and indeed for any suggestions or corrections. Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The headings are:
Literature; Literary Theory
Sociology of Language
Brooker, Peter. Cultural Theory: A Glossary. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1998.
Chalker, Sylvia, and Edmund Weiner. The Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.
Crystal, David. A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics. 4th ed. Oxford: Blackwell. 1997.
Baldick (see under Literature; Literary Theory) refers to this dictionary as the standard one. Wales (see under Stylistics) refers to Crystal as the model for the layout of her dictionary.
514 pages long. Contains many "encyclopedic articles" (e.g., on "embrayeur," "parole," and "langue") as well as short articles. Does not contain articles on persons.
This remarkable dictionary digests everything relevant at the time of its writing. The appendix, "Toward a Critique of the Sign," shows that what we now call "deconstruction" was already fully evolved in 1973 and was a broadly shared outlook.
Articles on technical matters but also on, e.g., metaphor and set theory. Good index.
Abrams, M. H. A Glossary of Literary Terms. 6th ed. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. 1993.
Oriented to English literature, i.e., literature in the English language, but there is a section of eleven articles on criticism and theory; also an introductory esssay on criticism by Christopher Norris. For whom see the article in Sim.
Goes back to 1976 (already a rev. ed.), when the title ended at Terms.
An article on Luce Irigaray but none on Hans Robert Jauss or Wolfgang Iser, who are mentioned in a paragraph in the article "German Theory and Criticism."
Succeeds A Concise Glossary of ... . The second edition also appeared in a shorter, paperback edition. Hawthorn is one of the Dr. Johnson's in this bibiliography: he wrote this glossary himself. In his preface, he organizes all of his glossed terms under twenty headings: Anthropology and cultural studies; Bakhtin group; Deconstruction; Discourse analysis; Feminism; Linguistics; Marxism; Media Studies; Narratology; New Criticism; New Historicism and Cultural Materialism; Phenomenology and Geneva School; Pragmatism; Prague School/Linguistics Circle; Psychology and Psychoanalysis; Reader-response criticism; Russian Formalism; Semiotics and Information Theory; Structuralism and post-structuralism; Style and stylistics. (Preceding comment based on 2nd ed. I have not seen the 4th, which is seventy terms beyond the third.)
First edition sold 30,000 copies; and was translated into Chinese. Twenty-two articles under three headings: 1. Literature as Writing; 2. Interpretation; 3. Literature, Culture, Politics. They range from the inadequate (Hillis Miller, "Narrative") to the very useful (Barbara Johnson, "Writing"). I will comment on the second edition in a future issue of this bibliography.
In three parts: 1. Approaches, consisting of forty-eight (sic) articles; 2. Scholars; 3. Terms. 656 pages. The best of the big ones.
Orr is another Dr. Johnson. He wrote this dictionary himself, and his preface tells you how he chose the terms he includes - an unusual revelation in these dictionaries.
The old, pre-theory warhorse. The Princeton Handbook of Poetic Terms is an abridged edition.
Historical, not theoretical, in orientation.
From Chinua Achebe to A. A. Zhdanov by way of a 100-person who's who in which you find Freud and Frye, Gadamer and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. cheek by jowl. The contributors are all Englishpersons. A classicist notes the absence of Martha Nussbaum, who might have deserved a place amongst the living theorists in this assembly.
Prince, Gerald. A Dictionary of Narratology. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. 1987.
Cf. Preminger and Schweikle under Literature; Literary Theory.R. Dean Anderson Jr. Glossary of Greek Rhetorical Terms connected to Methods of Argumentation, Figures and Tropes from Anaximenes to Quintilian. Contributions to Biblical Exegesis and Theology, 24. Leuven: Peeters. 2000.
The author's aim is to help "those attempting to use and apply Greek rhetorical methods of argumentation, figures and tropes to literature of the Hellenistic and early Imperial period, [..] particularly the documents of the Greek New Testament" (pp.5-6).
Dupriez, Bernard. Gradus: Les procédés littéraires. Paris: Union Génerale d'Éditions. 1980. Translated by A.W. Halsall, under the title Dictionary of Literary Devices (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991).
The entries are replete with interesting modern examples of traditional rhetorical figures.
Also available as A Hypertext Handlist of Rhetorical Terms. 1997.
Bouissac, Paul, ed. Encyclopedia of Semiotics.
Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1998.
Greimas, A. J. and J. Courtés. Semiotics and Language : An Analytical Dictionary. Translated by Larry Crist, et al. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. 1982. Originally published as Sémiotique: un dictionnaire raisoné de la théorie du langage (Paris: Hachette, 1979).
Williams, Raymond. Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society, 1780-1950. Rev. ed. New York: 1983. Oxford University Press.
Originally planned as appendix to his Culture and Society, this dictionary was published separately in 1976 and then expanded in the revised edition. The entries are short essays on words of great cultural salience. The articles under A, for example, are Aesthetic, Alienation, Anarchism, Anthropology, and Art. The articles under M, to take another letter, are Man, Management, Masses, Materialism, Mechanical, Media, Mediation, Medieval, Modern, Monopoly, and Myth.
Wales, Katie. A Dictionary of Stylistics. London: Longman. 1989.
Another Dr. Johnson. Designed for undergraduates and sixth-form students, but useful to the more advanced. Because stylistics draws on "whatever aspects of linguistics are felt to be relevant" and ditto for literary theory, this dictionary covers a broad range in its 484 pages.
Not a dictionary but I included it in case anyone wants to think about the question, which Wales' book does not answer, of what stylistics is.
Pavis, Patrice. Dictionnaire du théâtre - Termes et concepts de l'analyse théâtral. Paris: Éditions Sociales. 1980.