L371 2101 LINTON
Introduction to Criticism

11:15a-12:05p MWF (30) 3 cr.

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

This course introduces students to some of the contemporary critical practices that have shaped the field of English Studies, and aims to help each student develop the knowledge and skills necessary to become a responsible critic of literature and culture. This knowledge will, in turn, provide a basis for students to make informed choices in their future endeavors, whether it is to learn more about specific critical practices, or to bring what they have learned into the politics of everyday life. In reading classic texts from the critical tradition in the west, and attending to contemporary trends, students will explore questions fundamental to all critical practices. What is a text? What does it mean to respond critically to a text? How do our aims, assumptions, and interpretive choices affect our reading of a literary or social text? How do we engage critical and theoretical approaches and their aims and assumptions? What is the relation between texts and the worlds they project, and authors and critics and the worlds they live in? These and other questions will provide starting points for examining a variety of positions articulated by different schools of criticisms, from readers' response to formal, institutional and ideological analyses of narratives and discourses, to political criticisms and their implied social and historical responsibility.

Readings may include Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony, Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew, Nella Larsen's Passing, David Henry Hwang's M. Butterfly, and a course reader. In addition to weekly 1-page responses to assigned readings, students will participate in a group inquiry project and present findings to the class. Through discussion, presentations, and focused reflections, we will analyze critical strategies and theoretical ideas in order to understand their strengths and limitations in reading specific texts. There will be 2 essays (about 5 and 8 pages long) in which students try out the critical strategies they have learned in developing their own critical practice.