English | Literary Interpretation
L202 | 2928 | Christoph Irmscher
L202 LITERARY INTERPRETATION
PREREQUISITE: Completion of the English Composition requirement.
2928 - 9:30a-10:45a TR (25 students) 3 cr. A&H, IW.
In the history of critical thinking about literature, authors have
been praised and vilified, deconstructed and reconstructed. James
Joyce’s Stephen Dedalus saw the author as the invisible,
indifferent “God of creation”; Henry Adams envisioned him (and
himself) with his “historical neck broken by the sudden irruption of
forces totally new”; Roland Barthes formally announced the death of
the author and celebrated the “birth of the reader.” More recent
theorists, freshly intrigued by the emancipatory potential of
authorship, have heralded the author’s “return,” if in more complex
form, and the “authoring systems” of cyberfiction and electronic
storytelling are often said to have transformed new audiences into
potential authors. The texts that I have selected for the course
(poems, novels, a play, and a non-fiction text) reflect, in varying
degrees, a concern with the problems of authorship, with self-
empowerment or self-entrapment through words, writing, and
ultimately, publication. Texts to be purchased will include Walt
Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, The Vintage Book of Modern American
Poetry, a novel by Kurt Vonnegut, and Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
This class is intended as an introduction to literary
interpretation. You will be evaluated on your ability to read all
assigned texts thoroughly and thoughtfully; to share opinions of
these texts in class; and to express your opinions in writing. I
hope to create an environment in which you can acquire confidence in
your argumentative abilities. Writing assignments will range from
short blog postings to more formal essays. The final project for
the course will involve primary research at the Lilly Library.