L202 0251 WILES
Literary Interpretation

11:45a-1:00p D (25) 3 cr.


This course will give students a good deal of experience in the close analysis of representative literary texts, including poetry, drama and fiction. Our goal is to develop the art of lively, responsible reading through class discussion and writing of papers. Attention will be paid to literary design and critical method. In addition to methods of close reading which are designed to help us hear what the author is actually saying in a literary text (intrinsic approach), we will consider a few of the cultural contexts in which literary texts (and other texts) are read, depending on certain social agendas. The resulting approaches are sometimes called extrinsic ones, and they include perspectives from fields such as psychology, feminism, politics, and history. My personal goal will be to show the interdependence of intrinsic and extrinsic approaches for practically everything we read, from a love lyric to a novel about the French Revolution.

Students will write a number of short papers in this course (4-6 pages); ideally, you will write something about each work or unit in the course. There will be two exams. The course will be taught by a combination of lecture and discussion, and your active participation will count.

Readings include two novels that contain varying perspectives on history and society, A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens) and Song of Solomon (Morrison), a unit on lyric poetry, and several plays, including a comedy and a tragedy by Shakespeare on the theme of love (As You Like It and Othello) and two modern plays, Cloud Nine (Churchill) and Endgame (Beckett). We will also read an example of a “graphic novel,” Art Spiegelman’s Maus, to consider connections between verbal and visual interpretation.