To gain a deeper understanding of the literary movement that has dominated recent Anglo-American literary criticism, The Pursuit of Signs is a must. In a world increasingly mediated, it offers insights into our ways of consuming texts that are both brilliant and bold. Dancing through semiotics, reader-response criticism, the value of the apostrophe and much more, Jonathan Culler opens up for every reader the closed world of literary criticism. Its impact on first publication, in 1981, was immense; now, as Mieke Bal notes, 'the book has the same urgency and acuity that it had then', though today it has even wider implications: 'with the interdisciplinary turn taking hold, literary theory itself, through this book, becomes a much more widespread tool for cultural analysis'.
Jonathan Culler (1944- ), Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Cornell University, pioneered the application of semiotics to the study of literature in the English-speaking world. Other publications include Structuralist Poetics and On Deconstruction.
'Twenty years ago, if you wanted to know where literary theory was at, I'd say 'semiotics', and Culler's Pursuit of Signs was the best way to see the links. Today? Same answer. Overview, criticism, problems and solutions: Culler offers them all in each chapter, on key topics and questions of the humanities. The book has the same urgency and acuity that it had then. Except that, with the interdisciplinary turn taking hold, literary theory itself, through this book, becomes a much more widespread tool for cultural analysis.'