Honors | Literary Interpretation (ENG)
L202 | 7235 | Mary Favret

PREREQUISITE: Completion of the English Composition requirement.

Open to Hutton Honors College students only.

7235 – 2:30p-3:45p TR (20 students) 3 cr. A&H, IW.

In an essay titled “Reading,” Maurice Blanchot suggests what how
much is – and is not -- involved in the work of reading:

"Reading that accepts the work for what it is and in so doing
unburdens it of its author, does not consist of replacing the author
with a reader, a fully existent person, who has a history, a
profession, a religion. . . . Reading is not a conversation, it does
not discuss, it does not question. It never asks the book – and
certainly not the author – “What exactly did you mean?” . . . . Only
the nonliterary book is presented as a stoutly woven web of
determined significations, as an entity made up of real
affirmations: before it is read by anyone, the nonliterary book has
been read by everyone. . . . But the book whose source is art has no
guarantee in the world, and when it is read, it has never been read
before; it only attains its presence as a work in the space opened
by this unique reading, each time the first reading and the each
time the only reading."

This is a course about the work of reading works of writing. Whether
one agrees with Blanchot or not, his discussion raises the question
of the inter-dependency of reading and works of literature: one
cannot be without the other. This course will offer training in the
use of various tools for reading – primarily the tools of close,
formal textual analysis -- applying them to a series of literary
texts. But it will also consider what it might mean to produce
a “unique reading,” a “first reading.” In a graduated series of
short papers, students will experiment with various modes of
interpretive analysis; these assignments will be designed to
underscore the tight nexus of writing-reading-writing at the heart
of our work in this course. The works we read will range from short
poems to short stories, a play (probably Shakespeare’s Twelfth
Night), one assigned novel (Ian McEwan’s Atonement) and one
contemporary novel, to be chosen by the student in conversation with
the instructor.