"Theory at its best poses questions to these other pursuits, rather than meekly coexisting with them as one option among others. Rather than simply providing new methods for the study of literary works, it asks about the nature and function of literature and the literary institution. Rather than simply supplying us with yet more sophisticated ways of tackling canonical texts, it inquires into the very concept of canonicity. Its aim is not just to help us see what literary works mean, or how valuable they are; instead, it queries our commonsense notions of what it is to 'mean' in the first place, and poses questions about the criteria by which we evaluate literary art" (viii).
Eagleton, Terry. Preface to the Anniversary Edition. Literary Theory: An Introduction. Anniversary Edition. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2008. Web. 28 September 2011.