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New book explores ‘this thing called literature’

Image showing cover of 'This Thing called Literature'

Press release issued: 2 February 2015

What is this thing called literature? Why should we study it? And how? A new book by Professor Andrew Bennett of the University of Bristol and Professor Nicholas Royle of the University of Sussex exploring these questions will be launched on Friday 6 February at Foyles Bookshop in Bristol.

The book, This Thing Called Literature: Reading, Writing, Thinking, builds on the authors’ highly successful Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory, which has gone through several editions, sold more than 85,000 copies, and been adopted by countless literature departments worldwide since its first publication in 1995.

Relating literature to topics such as dreams, politics, life, death, the ordinary and the uncanny, This Thing Called Literature establishes a sense of why and how literature is an exciting and rewarding subject to study.  Professors Bennett and Royle weave an essential love of literature into an account of what literary texts do, how they work and what sort of questions and ideas they provoke.

The book’s three parts reflect the fundamental components of studying literature: reading, thinking and writing.  Using helpful, familiar examples throughout, the authors offer rich reflections on the question ‘What is literature?’ and on what they term ‘creative reading’.

Written in a lucid and friendly style, the book encourages a deep engagement with literary texts providing not only an essential guide to the study of literature but also an eloquent defence of the discipline.

This is the third book that Professor Bennett and Professor Royle Nick  have published together, the first being Elizabeth Bowen and the Dissolution of the Novel (Macmillan, 1994).

This Thing Called Literature is published by Routledge, £14.99.  The book’s launch takes place at 6pm on Friday 6 February at Foyles Bookshop, Quakers Friars, Cabot Circus, Bristol, BS1 3BU.

About the authors

Andrew Bennett is Professor of English at the University of Bristol.  His research focuses on Romanticism, twentieth- and twenty-first-century writing and literary theory.  He has published books on Keats and audience, Romanticism and posterity, and the poetics of ignorance in Romantic and post-Romantic literature.  His book, William Wordsworth in Context will be published later this month.  Other publications include books on twentieth-century writers (Elizabeth Bowen; Katherine Mansfield) and literary theory (Readers and Reading; The Author). 

Nicholas Royle is Professor of English at the University of Sussex.  He has published many essays and is author of numerous books, including Veering: A Theory of Literature, In Memory of Jacques Derrida and How to Read Shakespeare.  He is an editor of the Oxford Literary Review and has also published numerous works of short fiction and a novel, Quilt

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