I’m reading David Richter’s The Progress of Romance: Literary Historiography and the Gothic Novel–one of the best books on literary theory I’ve read for a long while. It’s an undogmatic approach to the way that literature, and especially literary genres, originate and develop. Richter persuasively connects formalism, Marxist literary history, and reception theory. It uses the Gothic novel as a test case and, through that, is an excellent study of Gothic, but it’s also a very convincing argument about how to study literary change.
I’d been groping towards ways of historicising genre theory, trying to find a way that treats all three facets of a triad of a work’s conditions of production, the text as a moment in a system of other texts and forms, and the consumption of the work by readers–this does that very well. It helps me in both my paths of research–the interaction of the dialogues of dialogue and novel in the eighteenth century, and the formation of the new (sub)genre of paranormal romance from disparate other genres.