English | Critical Practices
L371 | 7261 | Rae Greiner


L371 7261 CRITICAL PRACTICES
Rae Greiner

9:30a-10:45a 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.

TOPIC:  “A Cerulean Sweater, and Other Theory Matters”

This course is designed to introduce English and Education majors to
the “practice” of criticism:  the analytic methods and critical
techniques underwriting (what is, perhaps, literally) the discipline
of literary study.  The subtitle of this course, and especially the
phrase “Theory Matters,” highlights our fundamental consensus that—
whether or not its influence is always obvious—theory matters to
us:  in the books we read (and how we read them), the films we watch
(and how we talk about them afterwards), the cultural practices in
which we engage, the products available to us, and the political and
ideological forces shaping our choices and desires.  Like Anne
Hathaway’s “lumpy blue sweater”—betraying little if any of its
cultural and material production—the literary and cultural texts we
will analyze have histories. They too have been “selected” and
marketed in complex ways; they too manifest in other forms; they too
represent the silences and gaps of other (perhaps unrecognizable)
forms, and contain the
(cerulean?) traces of precedent texts and acts.  We will consider it
axiomatic, then, not only that theory “matters”—it is relevant to us
in and outside the classroom—but also that “theory matters” are
implicitly material (not just intellectual) concerns.  Whether we
are reading a novel by Jane Austen, a cereal box, a movie poster, or
a map, we will be considering the ways in which theory matters shape
how we comprehend, interpret, and navigate those cultural products.
Books
include:  The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism (Leitch et
al.); Critical Terms for Literary Study (Lentricchia and
McLaughlin); Literary Theory:  A Very Short Introduction (Culler);
Hamlet (Wm Shakespeare); Emma (Jane Austen); and screenings of Grey
Gardens (1975), The Devil Wears Prada (2006), and select episodes of
The Office
(BBC) and Six Feet Under (HBO).