The golden age of cultural theory (the product of a decade and a half, from 1965 to 1980) is long past. We are living now in its aftermath, in an age which, having grown rich in the insights of thinkers like Althusser, Barthes and Derrida, has also moved beyond them. What kind of new, fresh thinking does this new era demand? Eagleton concludes that cultural theory must start thinking ambitiously again - not so that it can hand the West its legitimation, but so that it can seek to make sense of the grand narratives in which it is now embroiled.
Terry Eagleton is Professor of Cultural Theory at Manchester University. His books include Literary Theory, a trilogy on Irish culture, a novel, several plays, the screenplay for Derek Jarman's film Wittgenstein, and an autobiography, The Gatekeeper (Penguin 2001).