L371 2128 ELMER
Introduction to Criticism

2:30p-3:45p TR (30) 3 cr.

PREREQUISITE: COMPLETION OF L202 WITH A GRADE OF C- OR BETTER. THE ENGLISH DEPARTMENT WILL STRICTLY ENFORCE THIS PREREQUISITE.

This course is designed to introduce students to a variety of contemporary critical methods in the analysis of literary and cultural texts. We will spend some time on historical background and sources of the current theoretical landscape, but we will spend the bulk of our time together reading texts and discussing interpretations of those texts offered by critics of different theoretical commitments. Some of the likely methods we will discuss are historicism, new criticism, psychoanalysis, Marxism, deconstruction, feminism, narratology, and queer theory. I have not yet chosen texts, but we will most likely have a kind of introductory text (e.g. Jonathan Culler’s Literary Theory), as well as some self-standing works of criticism, like Roland Barthes’ S/Z, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s Epistemology of the Closet, Susan Sontag’s Against Interpretation. Students will be responsible for regular in-class presentations on the readings (to be written up and handed in), a midterm and final, and a final paper that can be focused either on a theoretically informed reading of a particular text, an engagement with another critic’s work, or on a question related to the teaching of literature in theoretically sensitive ways in the high school classroom.