English | History of Literary Criticism from 1750 to 1960
L608 | 26971 | Kates

L608  26971  KATES (#6)
History of Literary Criticism from 1750 to 1960

4:00p – 5:15p TR


As conceived, this course has two goals: 1) to establish a set of
reference points for the "modern" (18th century-present)
understanding of aesthetics and literature; 2) to familiarize
ourselves with an especially significant swath of contemporary
theory. In the service of the first, in the first 6 weeks of the
course, we will read texts by Hume, Kant, Hegel, Coleridge,
Baudelaire, Arnold, and Nietzsche. These texts give a view of
Enlightenment, post-Enlightenment, and anti-Enlightenment
aesthetics, though the tenuousness of these labels will readily
become apparent. We will concentrate on individual texts, read as
attentively as possible, yielding an engagement with their positions
of contemporary, as well as historical, interest.

The remainder of the course will be devoted to the "couple"
Deleuze/Foucault. Foucault remains perhaps the single most important
thinker contributing to what has come to be known as theory, while
Deleuze today holds perhaps the greatest sway over its current and
future prospects. Deleuze and Foucault were friends, and readers and
supporters of each other. Yet they were enormously different in
their philosophical orientations, in what might be called
their “theoretical erotics,” and each repeatedly implicitly contests
the other’s work. Beginning from some of their earliest texts, and
proceeding up through some of their last, this phase of the course
engages with seminal theoretical thinking in a more comprehensive
way than often is possible, by situating the texts in question
within the broader arc of two thinkers’ development and their
continuous revision of their own project.

Intensive preparation and sustained class participation are
expected. The reading in the first six weeks will be relatively
light (fewer pages); through their preparation and class discussion,
participants, accordingly, are expected to attain a grasp of this
material that would subsequently make it possible for them to teach
it in an undergraduate setting. In the remainder of the course, the
number of pages read will be greater, but we will have the advantage
of following out a few continous thematic threads. Two 8-10 page
papers will be required, pertaining to each segment of the course;
with my permission, a participant, if she prefers, may write one
single longer paper at the end (20-25 pages).