Quora answer: As of 2012, what are the popular areas of research in literary theory and criticism?

May 22 2014

Right now the most popular Continental Philosopher is Zizek, who talks about everything from literature, film to modern politics (He even lectured to the 99% at Occupy WallStreet). I have been reading his works and I find them extremely interesting.  I recommend them, especially the works on Hegel and Lacan. There are a lot of his lectures available online and they are always entertaining and usually fairly interesting as well. I like his use of old Communist jokes as a basis for some of his paradoxical thinking. Essentially he is a sophist, his main goal is to take some absurd stand and make it believable, and that makes you think. So of course there are those who will apply his theories to literature even more pervasively than he does. He is more interested in film, but he also uses stories occasionally to illustrate points. I don’t know anyone who has read as much as he has. It is unbelievable the range of what he has read. So you learn a lot about what is out there of relevance that you would never of hear of otherwise if you read his books and listen to his lectures. He made Lacan make sense to me for the first time. But then again he reduces Lacan to Hegel and so that helps. But the combination of Lacan and Hegel is very enticing in as much as it gives a good basis for explaining things in literature that might otherwise remain completely inexplicable. However, to use this kind of approach you have to be a very sophisticated thinker, so he would not be for everyone. Besides he is a latter day communist, which is one reason that his appeal is diminished. But he his a very coy communist and his dedication to that is not very great as far as I can see, he is mostly interesting in unmaking metaphysical absurdities that pass for normal in everyday life. Communism is diminished to an appeal to support for the commons. If he is the next generation of Communist then I don’t think we have much to worry about. Badiou’s Maoism seems much more dangerous (because his thought is too my mind less humane). Zizek is reveling in human all too human like Nietzsche did. Zizek finds some interesting stories to illustrate some of his Lacanian points.

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