Finished - After Theory by Terry Eagleton
On too many occasions I felt I was being given un-supported facts. This still troubles me but the last few pages, and a bit of reflection, clarified the purpose of the book. I was learning when I started after all. Eagleton is just so funny and smart and insightful, and day-by-day as I go about my life I'm seeing things slightly differently because of his writing.
To his final points: he does not postulate that cultural and critical theory must be abandoned but that they have failed to answer questions about morality, death, religion, politics, and non-being. He examines these topics in the hope of injecting vigour into cultural theory, and inspiring people to tackle these issues instead of side-stepping them and writing about foot-fetishes and manscara.
I began this book very doubtful about the contribution of cultural theory. Half-way through I was sure it had contributed a lot (feminism, gender politics) but I continued to doubt the academics had real intellectual chops. Now I know that at least some of them do, and that they tackle serious issues with earnestness and good faith, even while others undermine their efforts with navel-gazing, opaque verbosity that serves no one but themselves. I actually want to read it again, to understand the issues that might be the ground-work for the next decade of cultural theory.