English | Introduction to Criticism
L371 | 2221 | Lynch


L371 2221 LYNCH
Introduction to Criticism

11:15a-12:30p TR (30) 3 CR.

PREREQUISITE: L202 with grade of C- or better.  NOTE: The English
Department will strictly enforce this prerequisite.  Students who
have not completed L202 with a grade of C- or better will have their
registration administratively cancelled.


In this course we will move rapidly from the romantics to the
present moment in order to get acquainted with the historical and
conceptual roots of current critical approaches to literature and
culture. We will also, through this survey of critical and cultural
theory, be getting re-acquainted with our own ways of reading.
Theory "happens" when we turn from asking questions about *what* the
literature we're reading means to asking the underlying questions
about *how* it means. Does the author determine the meanings of a
piece of literature or does the reader? What is the relationship
between the fictional worlds that literature represents and the
social worlds inhabited by its writers and readers? What do we mean
when we say literature "represents" anyhow? Can literature do things
as well as tell about them?  And what criteria determine which
writings will count as literature in the first place? The pleasure
of asking and re-asking these questions (we probably never will
answer them once and for all) is that the process of doing so can
liberate us from old habits of thought. The study of theory helps a
reader to discover new reasons to read and new
pleasures.


Our readings will represent an eclectic array of critical methods.
Formalist, structuralist, post-structuralist, psychoanalytic,
feminist, and post-colonial theories will all receive attention. We
will likely read such figures as Roland Barthes, Barbara Johnson,
Judith Butler, Pierre Bourdieu, Edward Said, and Homi Bhabha.  While
doing so, we will likely draw on an array of literary and filmic
texts (from Sherlock Holmes stories to David     Henry Hwang's M.
Butterfly, and from Jane Austen's Emma to Amy Heckerling's Clueless
which in various ways dramatize the perils and pleasures of
interpretation.


The format of this course may well differ from that of the other
courses you've done in this Department.  The readings I'm assigning
are for the most part very short, but they make up in difficulty for
what they lack in length.  For this reason, I'm going to be running
this section of L371 more like a "lab" (as in a science class) than
like a traditional humanities course.  The emphasis is on
experimentation and problem-solving; I'm going to be asking you to
use the time that you'd ordinarily be spending on keeping up with
the reading on the kind of brain-storming that in ordinary classes
happens only when you begin to write a paper.  That brainstorming
will be happening a lot more frequently in this class, because you
will all be expected to develop your own sense of how an
acquaintance with literary theory leads to new ways of reading.  And
you will all be expected to demonstrate that understanding on
multiple, rather informal occasions       throughout the semester:
specifically, in a series of worksheets and key-word assignments
that you'll be handing in at least every other week.   Other
assignments include a short paper and a final project.