This essay reflects the author’s interest in understanding the reasons for the growing resistance to theory witnessed over the last couple of decades. The first part attempts to demonstrate that literature and literary theory have been involved in complex dialectical moves between autonomy and heteronomy. The second part focuses on the role of exile in the production and negation of theory; two case studies examine both the potency of theory in exile and the constraints imposed on it. At stake here is gaining insight, through this focus on exile, into the impurity of theory, its pragmatic enmeshments and instability. The author then turns to reflect on the reasons for the current resistance to theory, emphasizing the significant role migration has recently played, as part of a wider constellation of factors, in this process. The text concludes with an examination of (literary) theory as a specifically Western product that has not necessarily had such an intense hold over other, differently constituted cultural zones.

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