L371 16365 CRITICAL PRACTICES
Joan Pong Linton

2:30p-3:45p TR (30 students) 3 cr. A&H.

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.

This course introduces students to some of the 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 critically responsible reader of literature and culture. While most English courses focus primarily on literary works, this course explores questions fundamental to all critical practice. What does it mean to “interpret” a work? What critical choices are in play and what assumptions come with these choices? What roles do literary texts and writers play in society? What expectations do we have about different literary genres and why? What can literary texts tell us about ourselves, our world, our history, our received ideas about “the way things are,” or about other cultural subjects and other worlds? How do we situate ourselves as critically responsive readers? How do literary texts relate to non-literary texts, including theoretical writings? What critical, theoretical, and historical freight do terms like author, writing, representation, structuralism, deconstruction, ideology, tradition, imperialism/nationalism, the unconscious, ethics, performance, etc. carry? How do we create conversations between literature and theory? In what ways might literary texts theorize the world and address us as agents in history?

These questions provide starting points for examining a number of critical and theoretical perspectives for their strengths and limitations. Through assigned readings, discussions, and presentations, we will learn how to engage with critical and theoretical writings, challenging the ideas presented and allowing them to challenge our thinking, and bringing these ideas into conversation with literary texts and cultural issues. In written assignments students will developing their own critical practice in applying, building on, and even refining the critical/ theoretical approaches.

Texts may include:
Hans Bertens, Literary Theory: The Basics
Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony
William Shakespeare, Othello
Caryl Churchill, Cloud Nine
Critical and theoretical essays on E-Reserves

Course work includes a number of skills-building response to readings, 2 essays (5 and 7 pages long), a group presentation, and weekly questions/comments. Regular attendance and participation are expected.