Many have suggested that theory is dead. As chair of the American Comparative Literature Association Committee awards the Rene Wellek Prize for the best book in literary theory, I will report on the current state of literary theory as exemplified by some sixty books publishers have submitted for the prize. Though there is considerable uncertainty about what counts as theory these days, the books from the past two years testify to a stronger and more varied field of theory than the yield from two years ago.
Jonathan Culler is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Cornell University and an internationally recognized scholar of literature and literary theory. His publications include The Literary in Theory (Stanford, 2006); Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 1999); Framing the Sign: Criticism and Its Institutions (Oxford, 1988); and Flaubert: The Uses of Uncertainty (Ithaca, 1985).