English | Critical Practices
L371 | 6824 | Josh Kates

Josh Kates

6824 - 2:30p-3:45p 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.

Critical Practices investigates the presuppositions behind the
interpretation and production of literature. Is the purpose of
literature essentially moral, a matter of depicting good and bad,
right and wrong behavior? Does it aim at making the reader feel
intense emotions (love, jealousy, hope, despair) themselves
previously intensely felt by the author? Should discussion of
literature focus more generally on the writer’s intentions (and
thus, should the reader know about history, the time and place in
which a text was written), or just what the work itself says? While
we will also read a story and a poem and watch a film, we mainly
pursue these questions through a series of essays that belong
to “theory,” or “literary theory,” as it is sometimes called. Along
with investigating these issues and making participants more self-
aware of how they work with literature, a second aim of the course
is to teach the student how to read such “theory.” Because this is
so, students are required to keep up with the readings on a weekly
basis. Finally, as these essays were written by some of the most
important recent thinkers, participants will also become familiar
with the intellectual climate of the last 100 years.