Flipside Theory: Emerging Perspectives in Literary Criticism

Chinedu Nwadike, Chibuzo Onunkwo


Literary theories have arisen to address some perceived needs in the critical appreciation of literature but flipside theory is a novelty that fills a gap in literary theory. By means of a critical look at some literary theories particularly Formalism, Marxism, structuralism, post-structuralism, psychoanalysis, and feminism but also Queer theory, New Criticism, New Historicism, postcolonialism, and reader-response, this essay establishes that a gap exists, which is the lack of a literary theory that laser-focuses on depictions of victims of social existence (people who simply for reasons of where and when they are born, where they reside and other unforeseen circumstances are pushed to the margins). Flipside criticism investigates whether such people are depicted as main characters in works of literature, and if so, how they impact society in very decisive ways such as causing the rise or fall of some important people, groups or social dynamics while still characterized as flipside society rather than developed to flipview society. While flipside literary criticism can be done on any work of literature, only works that distinctively provide this kind of plot can lay claim to being flipside works. This essay also distinguishes flipside theory from others that multitask such as Marxism, which explores the economy and class conflict between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, and feminism, which explores depictions of women (the rich and the poor alike) and issues of sex and gender. In addition, flipside theory underscores the point that society is equally constituted by both flipview society and flipside society like two sides of a coin.


Flipside Theory, Literary Criticism, Literary Theory

Full Text:



Akwanya, A. N. Literary Criticism: From Formal to Questions of Method. Nsukka: U of Nigeria P, 2017.

Barthes, Rowland. Elements of Semiology. Trans. Levers A. and Smith C. London: Jonathan Cape, 1967.

Beeman, Mark. “A Sociological Interpretation of Aminata Sow Fall’s The Beggars Strike.” Contributions in Black Studies, vol. 9, art. 12, 1992, scholarworks.umass.edu/cibs/vol9/iss1/12.

Carroll, Joseph. “Evolution and Literary Theory.” Human Nature, vol. 6, iss. 2, 1995, pp. 119-134. Doi: 10.1007/BF02734174.

Culler, J. Structuralist Poetics. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1975.

Eagleton, Terry. Literary Theory: An Introduction. 2nd ed. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1996.

---. Marxism and Literary Criticism. Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2006. Ebookstore.

Fiss, Owen, M. “What is Feminism?” Arizona State Law Journal, vol. 26, iss. 2, 1994, pp. 413-428.

Habib, M. A. R. A History of Literary Criticism: From Plato to the Present. Massachusetts:

Blackwell Publishing, 2005.

Harris, R. “Translators’s Introduction.” Course in General Linguistics. F. de Saussure. Translated by Harris R. Chicago: Open Court Classics. 1983.

Hawkes, Terence. Structuralism and Semiotics. London: Methuen, 1977.

---. Structuralism and Semiotics. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2013.

Jameson, F. Marxism and Form: Twentieth Century Dialectical Theories of Literature. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1972.

Mikell, Gwendolyn. “Introduction.” African Feminism: The Politics of Survival in Sub-Saharan Africa, edited by G. Mikell. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 1997.

Nkealah, Naomi. “(West) African Feminisms and Their Challenges.” Journal of Literary Studies, vol. 32, no. 2, 2016, pp. 61-74. Doi: 10.1080/02564718.2016.1198156.

Ogwude, Sophia. O., editor. Writing the Female Image in African Fiction. Ibadan: UP, 2013.

Radford, Gary and Marie Radford. “Structuralism, Post-Structuralism, and the Library: de Saussaure and Foucault.” Journal of Documentation, vol. 61, no. 1, 2005, pp. 60-78. Doi: 10.1108/00220410510578014.

Sanusi, Ibrahim Chinade. “Structuralism as a Literary Theory: An Overview.” AFRREV LALIGENS, vol. 1, no. 1, 2012, 124-131. www.afrrevjo.net/afrrevlaligens.

Saussure, Ferdinand de. Course in General Linguistics. Translated by Harris R. Chicago: Open Court Classics, 1983.

Taghizadeh, Ali. “A Theory of Literary Structuralism (in Henry James).” Theory and Practice in Language Studies, vol. 3, no. 2, 2013, pp. 285-292. Doi: 10.4304/tpls.3.2.285-292.

Tihanov, Galin. “Why Did Modern Literary Theory Originate in Central and Eastern Europe? (And Why Is It Now Dead?)” Common Knowledge, vol. 10, no. 1, 2004, pp. 61-80.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.7n.6p.195


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2012-2022 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD

International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the journal emails into your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.