The essay questions the leading role of literary theory throughout the twentieth century and the reason why Theory with a capital T was born out of the field of literary theory rather than out of any other discipline, such as sociology, history, psychoanalysis, and so on. The author argues that literature–in the modern sense of the term–necessitated literary theory from its very beginnings because of the manner in which it was constituted, namely as a conditioned opening of unconditionality, a fragile, not predetermined potentiality that calls for ever new theorizations in such a way as to incessantly cross its own boundaries. From such a perspective, literary theory can be reenvisioned as having always been multiple and inherently divided, a conglomerate of monsters, a differential force field destined to move beyond its “proper” object and to integrate different approaches and disciplines, generating new fields of research. Because of the changing status of literature today, however, and due to theory’s inherent self-destructive tendencies, the fragile unconditionality that makes us free is in danger of being lost.

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