I want to get into theory and philosophy, but I've read very little. What do I need to read to be able to fully understand foucault, barthes, derrida, etc? Or should I just dive right in?
If you ever get to the point where you “fully understand” any of these dudes you will be doing much better than me, friend, & I would be impressed as hell. I’m not an expert in any of them by any means.
But since it might be helpful I’ll tell you what we’ve read in my theory courses this semester (we just kind of jumped in, tbh):
The History of Sexuality; Language, Countermemory, Practice; “What is an Author?” (Foucault)
Image - Music - Text (Barthes)
I love theory but I don’t understand it always 100% of the time. I’m tempted to just tell you to jump in, you’ll find out rather quickly if you’re stimulated by that kind of thing like I am or if you think it’s not worth the time. Which is fine, but it can be a lot of trying to find your way in the dark. Find out who you like, read the people they’re influenced by, and look at who they’re citing in the text, or read more recent people who use them in their own theories.
I think it gets easier once you’ve read enough of a particular kind of theory & you’re able to understand the overall conversation that’s being had.