Fabio Akcelrud Durão’s essay “Responsible Reading of Theory” engages with a number of large and fundamental questions regarding the identity, purpose, and future of theory. The answers that it offers are so rich and complex that a responsible reading of the entirety of that essay would require a monograph. For that reason, this response will focus on just the first paragraph of the first of the essay’s three sections and consider how that paragraph defines the relationship between theory and literature.
Robert Baines starts his essay with a vivid analytical presentation of the last five decades of research in the field of Joyce Studies, emphasizing the context and stakes of the shift from (a) post-structuralist criticism to (b) a focus on “Joyce’s engagements with the history, politics, and culture of his age” (Baines xx), and later to (c) genetic criticism. Baines’ account of the last 50 years of criticism and his suggestions for extended forms of dialogue between supposedly divergent critical/ theoretical orientations can easily be transposed, mutatis mutandis, to Beckett studies.