Hoo boy I'd have to be insane to try to define
theory. It's a blanket term that covers many kinds of
approaches to literature, language, and culture. Although it can
refer to almost any kind of careful consideration of these things
Aristotle, after all, was a fine literary theorist
in practice theory usually means the kinds of
approaches that became common, at least in the Anglo-American
world, beginning in the late 1960s.
See also deconstruction, feminism, and structuralism.
From the Guide to Literary Terms by Jack Lynch.
Please send comments to Jack Lynch.
Note: This guide is still in the early stages of development.
Three question marks mean I have to write more on the subject. Bear with me.