English | Critical Practices
L371 | 2955 | Mica Hilson

Mica Hilson

2955 - 10:10a-11:00a MWF (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.

TOPIC:  "Queer Connections"

Though English professors ordinarily use the term “queer reading” to
refer to an interpretation of literature which engages with issues
of non-normative gender and sexuality, the word “queer” itself has
had a long and varied history, stemming from an Indo-European word
for “twist” and later being used as a synonym for “strange”
and “enigmatic.”

This course starts with the premise that nearly all interpretations
performed by literary critics are in some sense “queer” readings. As
you probably noticed in your previous English classes, scholars in
the field are rarely interested in “straight” readings, those which
dwell upon obvious meanings and standard interpretations of a text.
Rather, the critical practices most valued in the field of English—
and the ones which we will be exploring in this class—are those
which challenge conventional wisdom and help us view familiar texts
in different ways.

The course thus has three underlying goals:
1)	To introduce students to a wide range of critical practices
and classic works of literary and cultural theory.
2)	To give students an opportunity to apply these critical
practices to a wide range of literary texts.
3)	To explore how seemingly disparate critical practices might
share common goals and ideas.

We’ll be looking at three main types of texts in this class:
literary theory, literary criticism, and literature. Most, though
not all, of our theoretical readings will come from The Routledge
Critical and Cultural Theory Reader, which includes old classic
essays from the likes of Marx and Freud, as well as new classics
from theorists like Judith Butler and Donna Haraway. The literature
will come from a wide variety of genres, periods, and countries,
including short works by Bertolt Brecht, Octavia Butler, William and
Ellen Craft, John Gay, ETA Hoffman, Christopher Marlowe, Orhan
Pamuk, Christina Rossetti, Mark Twain, and Emile Zola.

This course will definitely place a heavier emphasis on reading than
writing, but students will be responsible for several short (1-page)
responses, one (5-6 page) literary analysis paper, one critical
annotated bibliography, one group presentation, and a final exam.