Where most introductions to literary and critical theory take a “school-by-school” approach, and usually stop with the advent of poststructuralism and its variations, this book is organized conceptually and aims to introduce readers primarily to theory produced in the wake of poststructuralism. Theory itself can be distinguished from either criticism or philosophy, although those distinctions are not total, by its inclination to help readers learn to ask the right questions, rather than to provide straightforward answers. This book does not purport to be a comprehensive survey of all the concepts and developments; nevertheless, it aims to give readers the background they will need in contemporary theory to continue their own fruitful explorations of this vibrant field of study. Each chapter also ends with sections that exemplify how to apply the relevant theory to classic literature, contemporary novels, and popular media (especially film, television, and graphical novels).