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What is theory? What does it do?

What is theory comment03:39

What is theory comment.

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Theory is a way of thinking about something that generates more questions than perhaps it does answer about that given topic. This thinking that is generated is open to various interpretations and can even be debated. When answering the question of what theory does I am tempted to be slightly sarcastic and ask what it doesn't do because of the fact that theory is so open to interpretation and debate.
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Literary theory is a set of principles or tools that allow a reader to engage with and interpret/understand a piece of literature. By using a universal approach, readers can experience and critique a peace using similar language and references. This allows many voices to communicate and add to the discussion. It is a way to break down and understand the rhetorical qualities and delve into the actual achievement, intended and otherwise, of a peace of literature.

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Theory gives us a framework in which we can observe, interact, and question artifacts and / or objects. Using this framework, we can make observations about the idea of the artifact or object outside of its previously understood purpose. Theory allows us to question those things that are in the world around us, abd decide how we (the center of the universe) want to engage with them, or not, and how we can determine meaning and/or pleasure.

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So far from our class discussion my best guess as to what theory entails would be that it is an approach to how one would understand something. Both ones overall understanding and the approach to that understanding can change given what information is given at the time. For instance, knowing the name and location of the statue we looked at during this class would have significantly changed our approach to understanding what all it entailed.   

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I am "a Wikia Contributor." I was not logged in. :-)

Julie Ricks wrote:
I am "a Wikia Contributor." I was not logged in. :-)


No problem. Thanks Julie.

Ibelie wrote:
Theory takes ideas and shapes them. Through time as cultures and ideas change, theory evolves as well. It is a way of projecting feelings and views to others. It is a method to open a conversation into understanding new ideas and a way to express them.


Thinking of theory as a "conversation" is fantastic. It suggests what is dynamic about theory, and it also suggests what's challenging about theory - joining in conversations in a productive way can be difficult to do, especially when they're conversations that have been going on for a long time.

Jwoodard3 wrote:
Literary theory is a set of principles or tools that allow a reader to engage with and interpret/understand a piece of literature. By using a universal approach, readers can experience and critique a peace using similar language and references. This allows many voices to communicate and add to the discussion. It is a way to break down and understand the rhetorical qualities and delve into the actual achievement, intended and otherwise, of a peace of literature.


I find the language of "breaking" that we use to describe how we treat texts to be so interesting. In certain obvious ways it suggests that the act of interpretation is an act violence. Along these lines we also talk about "interrogating" texts, which suggests that they are capable of actively responding to what we do with and to them.

Gwallace2 wrote:
Theory is a way of thinking about something that generates more questions than perhaps it does answer about that given topic. This thinking that is generated is open to various interpretations and can even be debated. When answering the question of what theory does I am tempted to be slightly sarcastic and ask what it doesn't do because of the fact that theory is so open to interpretation and debate.


Some would suggest that theory does not increase one's appreciation of literature. That is, the work of theory is about finding/uncovering/revealing/making meaning, not about enjoying a work.

Kelseykingers55 wrote:
Theory is a way of approaching everything and anything. It looks at different ways of looking at things. It poses a question about what something could be. Theory is not fact, but merely speculation of things that could be fact. Theory allows the theorist to approach an idea, thing, or theory with an open mind about what is being accomplished by the existence of such thing. The process of theory allows a person to discover what they think to be most true, and be able to explain how they arrived at their conclusion. Theory forces the brain to ignore what it believes to be true initially, and to search for what else could be true based on whichever tools said person uses in theorizing. 


I like this phrase: "the process of theory." That is, theory is not a destination at which one arrive, it is an ongoing process.

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