a resource for studying literary theory
  • Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti
  • Gender and Feminism
  • Gender Queer Theory
  • New Historicism
  • Literary Linguistics
  • Formalism
  • Post-structuralism
  • Psychoanalytic
  • Prosody and Poetic Form
  • Ecocriticism
  • Genre
  • Posthumanism

The Virtual Theorist is a literary theory resource which aims to provide an introduction to aspects of literary theory. Literary theory can be abstract, and although it often contains some very interesting ideas, you may find it difficult to see how these ideas might be used to analyse critically a work of literature. We hope that this site will help you to understand literary theory and its application.

This website aims to offer you examples of how this can be done. It has been written with undergraduates studying English Literature in mind, though it may prove relevant to other academic disciplines, and it was developed by academic staff with research and teaching experience in UK universities. All the work you see on this website has been peer-reviewed.

For each theory discussed, you will find an introduction to that theory, along with a reading list for further information. Each theory is then used to analyse a poem, ‘Goblin Market’ by Christina Rossetti. The same poem is used for each analysis so that you can see how these theories can offer a very different reading experience of the same poem.

The Virtual Theorist was created and is managed by the School of English at Birmingham City University with funding from the Higher Education Academy.