chapter  1
9 Pages

Theory, history, context

ByHuw Jones

What has become known as critical theory in the Anglophone world is a rather disparate amalgam of ideas from across a multitude of disciplines. Its porous boundaries and the vagaries of intellectual fashion make a de nitive selection of authors and ideas a very dif cult task, as some theoretical strands that were at one time central to critical theory have been displaced or marginalized. Although it can lead to simpli cation and the crudest historicism it is useful to consider the trajectory of critical theory as a series of conjunctures at which a distinctive set of social, political and aesthetic issues predominate. The contributions of many of the central gures in the development of critical theory span more than one of the conjunctural moments, and the work of gures such as Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault manages to encompass several of the key theoretical movements that have characterized the development of the discipline as a whole.