L371 15884 CRITICAL PRACTICES
Joan Pong Linton

10:10a-11:00a MWF (30 students) 3 cr., A&H. Open to English majors only.

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 will examine some of the critical practices that have shaped the field of English Studies, with the aim of helping 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 practices. What roles do literary texts and writers have in society? What have we come to expect about literature 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 subjects and other worlds? How do we situate ourselves as critically responsive readers? What does it mean to “interpret” a work? What critical choices are in play and what assumptions come with these choices? How do literary texts relate to non-literary texts, including theoretical writings? What critical, theoretical, and historical freight do terms like author, writing, representation, ideology, tradition, imperialism, 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 will provide starting points for examining a number of critical and theoretical perspectives for their strengths and limitations. Through readings, discussions, and presentations, we will learn how to engage with critical and theoretical writings. In written assignments students will developing their own critical practice in applying, building on, and even refining the critical/ theoretical approaches.

The texts for this course may include but are not limited to: Hans Bertens’ Literary Theory: The Basics, David Henry Hwang’s M. Butterfly, Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony, and a play by Shakespeare, A number of critical and theoretical essays will be available through E-Reserves. Responsibilities will include a number of short skills-building responses to readings, a group presentation, and three essays. Regular attendance and participation are expected.