In recent years, Itamar Even-Zohar's Polysystem Theory seems to have lost much of its appeal for students of comparative literature, while more recent forms of systemic approaches to literature—most conspicuously, Pierre Bourdieu's praxiology and Siegfried Schmidt's and Niklas Luhmann's Constructivism—are becoming increasingly popular. To some extent, this is due to the misconception that the more recent forms of system theory have superseded their polysystemic predecessor. This is a misconception for two reasons. On the one hand, Polysystem Theory offers students of literature a framework for a wide-ranging and still topical study of a variety of cultural phenomena (that are not restricted to literature); on the other hand, the more recent system-theoretical approaches simply cannot replace Polysystem Theory,because they are interested in altogether different aspects of the literary system. This critical introduction aspires to rekindle interest in Polysystem Theory and briefly illustrates its application from the author's current research.

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