Anecdotal Theory

Anecdotal Theory

Book Pages: 192 Illustrations: Published: November 2002

Author: Jane Gallop

Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Theory, Theory and Philosophy > Feminist Theory, Psychoanalytic Theory

"Anecdote" and "theory" have diametrically opposed connotations: humorous versus serious, specific versus general, trivial versus overarching, short versus grand. Anecdotal Theory cuts through these oppositions to produce theory with a sense of humor, theorizing which honors the uncanny detail of lived experience. Challenging academic business as usual, renowned literary scholar Jane Gallop argues that all theory is bound up with stories and urges theorists to pay attention to the "trivial," quotidian narratives that theory all too often represses.

Published during the 1990s, these essays are united through a common methodological engagement—writing that recounts a personal anecdote and then attempts to read that anecdote for the theoretical insights it affords. Gallop addresses many of the major questions of feminist theory, regularly revisiting not only ‘70s feminism, but also poststructuralism and the academy, for, as Gallop explains, the practice of anecdotal theory derives from psychoanalysis, deconstruction, and feminism. Whether addressing issues of pedagogy, the sexual position one occupies when on the academic job-market, bad-girl feminists, or the notion of sisterhood, these essays exemplify theory grappling with its own erotics, theory connected to the real. They are bold, illuminating, and—dare we say—fun.


"[Gallop's] explorations resonate for us all. . . . [Anectodal Theory] interrogates its own narrative with . . . formidable wit and intellectual rigor . . . . Moving and provocative . . . ." — Cora Kaplan, Women's Review of Books

"[I]n terms of provocation of critical self-examination by academics about our core business-teaching, thinking, writing, speaking-Anecdotal Theory is worth a read." — Teresia K. Teaiwa, International Feminist Journal of Politics


— H. A. Booth, Choice

“Gallop is our foremost comic theorist. Anecdotal theory, as she observes, is theory with a better sense of humor. Gallop shows us how to be smart and rigorous precisely by refusing to ‘get serious,’ explaining how that imperative in fact makes literary critics relinquish what we do best. Lightening up without in any way producing theory ’lite’: this is one formulation of Gallop’s goal and considerable accomplishment, both here and throughout her career.” — Joseph Litvak, author of Strange Gourmets: Sophistication, Theory, and the Novel

“Jane Gallop’s essays are lucid, bold, and timely: she gives us our time through a series of brilliant lenses. I’m always grateful for the intelligence, the edge, and the generosity of her vision. We would all be more lost without her.” — Judith Butler, author of Gender Trouble


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Jane Gallop is Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. She is the author of numerous books including Around 1981: Academic Feminist Literary Theory, Thinking through the Body, and Feminist Accused of Sexual Harassment, published by Duke University Press.

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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3038-7 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3001-1
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