Reading list

Cultural and Literary Theory: Verso Student Reading

Our Cultural and Literary Theory reading for the academic year ahead: all 40% off until the end of September.

Verso Books29 August 2022

Cultural and Literary Theory: Verso Student Reading

We bring you a list of books to fill your Cultural and Literary Theory shelves, including key titles from the likes of Oscar Wilde, Fredric Jameson, Raymond Williams, Mark Greif, Michele Wallace and Fredric Jameson.  

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See all our recommended Student Reading here.

Marx's Literary Style
In Marx’s Literary Style, the Venezuelan poet and philosopher Ludovico Silva argues that much of the confusion around Marx’s work results from a failure to understand his literary mode of expressio...
Class War
A thrilling and vivid work of history, Class War weaves together literature and politics to chart the making and unmaking of social class through revolutionary combat. In a narrative that spans the...
Different Speeds, Same Furies
There are few writers about whom opinions diverge so widely as Anthony Powell, whose Dance to the Music of Time sequence is one of the most ambitious literary constructions in the English language....
Walter Benjamin's Archive
The work of the great literary and cultural critic Walter Benjamin is an audacious plotting of history, art, and thought; a reservoir of texts, commentaries, scraps, and fragments of everyday lif...
Paperback
Culture and Politics
Raymond Williams was a pioneering scholar of cultural and society, and one of the outstanding intellectuals of the twentieth century. In this, a collection of difficult to find essays, some of whic...
Invisibility Blues
First published in 1990, Michele Wallace’s Invisibility Blues is widely regarded as a landmark in the history of black feminism. Wallace’s considerations of the black experience in America include ...
Paperback
Osip Mandelstam
This is the first full-scale biography of Osip Mandelstam to combine an analysis of his poetry with a description of his personal life, from his beginnings as a young intellectual in pre-revolution...
The Black Romantic Revolution
During the pitched battle over slavery in the United States, Black writers - enslaved and free - allied themselves with the cause of abolition and used their art to advocate for emancipation and to...
Everything and Less
As the story goes: Jeff Bezos left a lucrative job to start something new in Seattle only after a deeply affecting reading of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Remains of the Day. But if a novel gave usAmazon.com, ...
Aesthetics and Politics
No other country and no other period has produced a tradition of major aesthetic debate to compare with that which unfolded in German culture from the 1930s to the 1950s. In Aesthetics and Politics...
Utopia
Five hundred years since its first publication, Thomas More’s Utopia remains astonishingly radical and provocative. More imagines an island nation where thousands live in peace and harmony, men and...
Taking A Long Look
For nearly fifty years, Vivian Gornick’s essays, written with her characteristic clarity of perception and vibrant prose, have explored feminism and writing, literature and culture, politics and pe...
Politics and Letters

Politics and Letters

Raymond Williams made a central contribution to the intellectual culture of the Left in the English-speaking world. He was also one of the key figures in the foundation of cultural studies in Bri...
Against World Literature
Against World Literature: On the Politics of Untranslatability argues for a rethinking of comparative literature focusing on the problems that emerge when large-scale paradigms of literary studies ...
The Function of Criticism
This wide-ranging book argues that criticism emerged in early bourgeois society as a central feature of a “public sphere” in which political, ethical, and literary judgements could mingle under the...
The Benjamin Files
The Benjamin Files offers a comprehensive new reading of all of Benjamin's major works and a great number of his shorter book reviews, notes and letters. Its premise is that Benjamin was an anti-p...
Mimesis

Mimesis

Valery Podoroga was one of the most important thinkers of his generation. Here his most famous work is translated into English for the first time. In it he gives a panorama view of Russian writing,...
Allegory and Ideology
Works do not have meanings, they soak up meanings: a work is a machine for libidinal investments (including the political kind). It is a process that sorts incommensurabilities and registers contra...
Brecht and Method
The legacy of Bertolt Brecht is much contested, whether by those who wish to forget or to vilify his politics, but his stature as the outstanding political playwright and poet of the twentieth cent...
The Antinomies of Realism
The Antinomies of Realism is a history of the nineteenth-century realist novel and its legacy told without a glimmer of nostalgia for artistic achievements that the movement of history makes it imp...
The Modernist Papers
The Modernist Papers is a tour de force of analysis and criticism, in which Jameson brings his dynamic and acute thought to bear on the modernist literature of the nineteenth and twentieth centurie...
A Singular Modernity
The concepts of modernity and modernism are amongst the most controversial and vigorously debated in contemporary philosophy and cultural theory. In this intervention, Fredric Jameson—perhaps the m...
The Cultural Turn
Fredric Jameson, a leading voice on the subject of postmodernism, assembles his most powerful writings on the culture of late capitalism in this essential volume. Classic insights on pastiche, nost...
The World in a Grain of Sand
The World in a Grain of Sand offers a framework for reading literature from the global South that goes against the grain of dominant theories in cultural studies, especially, postcolonial theory. I...
The Tomb of Oedipus
If Greek tragedies are meant to be so tragic, why do they so often end so well? Here starts the story of a long and incredible misunderstanding. Out of the hundreds of tragedies that were performed...
Writers and Missionaries
Through a close reading of the lives and works of some of the greatest intellectuals of recent times, Adam Shatz asks: do writers have an ethical imperative to question injustice? How can one remai...
Edward Said

Edward Said

In this personal portrait of Edward Said written by a close friend, Dominique Eddé offers a fascinating and fresh presentation of his oeuvre from his earliest writings on Joseph Conrad to his most ...
Raymond Chandler
Raymond Chandler, a dazzling stylist and portrayer of American life, holds a unique place in literary history, straddling both pulp fiction and modernism. With The Big Sleep, published in 1939, he ...
In Praise of Disobedience

In Praise of Disobedience

In Praise of Disobedience draw on works from a single miraculous year in which Oscar Wilde published the larger part of his greatest prose — the year he came into maturity as an artist. Before the ...
Poets of the Chinese Revolution

Poets of the Chinese Revolution

This is a book of poems by four veteran Chinese revolutionaries. Chen Duxiu led China’s early cultural awakening before founding the Communist Party in 1921. Mao led the Party to power in 1949. Zhe...
The Walker
Can you get lost in a crowd? It is polite to stare at people walking past on the street? What differentiates the city of daylight and the nocturnal metropolis? What connects walking, philosophy a...
The Age of the Poets
The Age of the Poets revisits the age-old problem of the relation between literature and philosophy, arguing against both Plato and Heidegger’s famous arguments. Philosophy neither has to ban the p...
Everything to Nothing
The First World War changed the map of Europe forever. Empires collapsed, new countries were born, revolutions shocked and inspired the world. This tumult, sometimes referred to as ‘the literary wa...
Figures of Catastrophe
The leading critic Francis Mulhern uncovers a hidden history in the fiction of the past century, identifying a central new genre: the condition of culture novel. Reading across and against the grai...
Literature of Revolution
This influential collection explores the pivotal texts and topics in the Marxist tradition. Ranging over questions of social theory, political theory, moral philosophy and literary criticism, it l...
Simple Forms

Simple Forms

Legend, saga, myth, riddle, saying, case, memorabile, fairy tale, joke: André Jolles understands each of these nine “simple forms” as the reflection in language of a distinct mode of human engageme...
An Ecology of World Literature
What is a literature? How do literatures of different countries interact with each other? In this groundbreaking study, Alexander Beecroft develops a new way of thinking about world literature. Dra...
Paperback
Walter Benjamin
From our finest radical literary analyst, a classic study of the great philosopher and cultural theorist.
Archaeologies of the Future
In an age of globalization characterized by the dizzying technologies of the First World, and the social disintegration of the Third, is the concept of utopia still meaningful? Archaeologies of the...
The Task of the Critic
Terry Eagleton occupies a unique position in the English-speaking world today. He is not only a productive literary theorist, but also a novelist and playwright. He remains a committed socialist de...
Paperback
Nightwalking

Nightwalking

“Cities, like cats, will reveal themselves at night,” wrote the poet Rupert Brooke. Before the age of electricity, the nighttime city was a very different place to the one we know today – home to t...
The Storyteller
The Storyteller gathers for the first time the fiction of the legendary critic and philosopher Walter Benjamin, best known for his groundbreaking studies of culture and literature, including Illumi...
Radio Benjamin

Radio Benjamin

Walter Benjamin was fascinated by the impact of new technology on culture, an interest that extended beyond his renowned critical essays. From 1927 to ’33, he wrote and presented something in the...
One-Way Street

One-Way Street

Walter Benjamin is one of the most fascinating and enigmatic intellectual figures of this century. Not only was he a thinker who made an enormous impact with his critical and philosophical writings...
The Origin of German Tragic Drama

The Origin of German Tragic Drama

The Origin of German Tragic Drama is Walter Benjamin's most sustained and original work. It begins with a general theoretical introduction on the nature of the baroque art of the sixteenth and seve...
Charles Baudelaire

Charles Baudelaire

Walter Benjamin, one of the foremost cultural commentators and theorists of this century, is perhaps best known for his analyses of the work of art in the modern age and the philosophy of history. ...
Understanding Brecht

Understanding Brecht

The relationship between philosopher-critic Walter Benjamin and playwright-poet Bertolt Brecht was both a lasting friendship and a powerful intellectual partnership. Having met in the late 1920s in...
Paperback (2003)
The System of Objects

The System of Objects

The System of Objects is a tour de force—a theoretical letter-in-a-bottle tossed into the ocean in 1968, which brilliantly communicates to us all the live ideas of the day—offering a cultural criti...
The Age of the Poets
The Age of the Poets revisits the age-old problem of the relation between literature and philosophy, arguing against both Plato and Heidegger’s famous arguments. Philosophy neither has to ban the p...
Brecht and Method
The legacy of Bertolt Brecht is much contested, whether by those who wish to forget or to vilify his politics, but his stature as the outstanding political playwright and poet of the twentieth cent...
Invisibility Blues
First published in 1990, Michele Wallace’s Invisibility Blues is widely regarded as a landmark in the history of black feminism. Wallace’s considerations of the black experience in America include ...
Paperback
Everything to Nothing
The First World War changed the map of Europe forever. Empires collapsed, new countries were born, revolutions shocked and inspired the world. This tumult, sometimes referred to as ‘the literary wa...
Figures of Catastrophe
The leading critic Francis Mulhern uncovers a hidden history in the fiction of the past century, identifying a central new genre: the condition of culture novel. Reading across and against the grai...
Against Everything
Against Everything is a thought-provoking study and essential guide to the vicissitudes of everyday life under twenty-first-century capitalism.Mark Greif is one of the most exciting writers of his...
Paperback
Literature of Revolution
This influential collection explores the pivotal texts and topics in the Marxist tradition. Ranging over questions of social theory, political theory, moral philosophy and literary criticism, it l...
Simple Forms

Simple Forms

Legend, saga, myth, riddle, saying, case, memorabile, fairy tale, joke: André Jolles understands each of these nine “simple forms” as the reflection in language of a distinct mode of human engageme...
The Function of Criticism
This wide-ranging book argues that criticism emerged in early bourgeois society as a central feature of a “public sphere” in which political, ethical, and literary judgements could mingle under the...
An Ecology of World Literature
What is a literature? How do literatures of different countries interact with each other? In this groundbreaking study, Alexander Beecroft develops a new way of thinking about world literature. Dra...
Paperback
The Antinomies of Realism
The Antinomies of Realism is a history of the nineteenth-century realist novel and its legacy told without a glimmer of nostalgia for artistic achievements that the movement of history makes it imp...
Walter Benjamin
From our finest radical literary analyst, a classic study of the great philosopher and cultural theorist.

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