English | Literary Interpretation
L202 | 16474 | Shannon Gayk
L202 16474 LITERARY INTERPRETATION
PREREQUISITE: Completion of the English Composition requirement.
Open to majors and declared minors only.
11:15a-12:30p TR (25 students) 3 cr., A&H.
TOPIC: “Art and Life”
In this course we will focus on the development of the interpretive
skills and vocabulary necessary for the interpretation of
literature. We will put these skills into practice in class
discussion and writing on a wide range of texts, including poetry,
drama, fiction, and essays, paying special attention to the formal
characteristics, generic affiliations, and cultural contexts of the
readings. Throughout the semester we will focus on how to ask the
right kinds of questions of a literary work and how to use the tools
of literary analysis to arrive at thoughtful answers. In this course
we will also cultivate the art of reading slowly. Indeed, there
will not be a great deal of reading for this course, but you should
expect to spend substantial time outside of class working through
the texts carefully and preparing an interpretative approach to
share with the class.
To help focus our discussions and writing, the overarching theme for
this course will be the relationship between “art and life.”
Literature has often been considered as a mode of representing
reality, but one might also claim, like Oscar Wilde,
that “Literature always anticipates life. It does not copy it, but
molds it to its purpose.” We will focus on literature that reflects
on the status of art and its relationship to life. More generally,
we will consider some of the following questions: How do we think
about the relationships between literature and “reality”? Does art
imitate life? In what ways are art and life fundamentally
estranged? What is the relationship between form and meaning?
Between aesthetics and ethics?
Course requirements include: daily attendance, preparation, and
active participation in course discussions; frequent in-class
writing assignments; three short (5-6 pages) essays; in class peer-
editing; a midterm exam.