course provides a broad overview to critical/theoretical approaches for
interpreting a variety of texts, in particular “literary” ones, like fiction
and poetry, but other cultural productions as well, such as films and popular
songs. Central concepts for studying texts–rhetoric, poetics, aesthetics,
ideology, representation, performance, globalization, post-colonialism–will
serve as focal points for discussion. Because theory without practice resembles
learning to swim by watching film of people swimming, we will read short
primary texts, which will be sites for applying theories as well as sources for
Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction.
Alani Apio: Kamau
In Our Time [excerpts]
Linmark: Rolling the R’s [excerpts]
Shakespeare: Twelfth Night
Plus PDFs of critical
MLA Style Manual
and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, 7th ed. New York: Modern Language
Association of America, 2009.
In addition to a
mid-term and final, students will write short summaries, short response papers,
and two essays.
Students finishing the class will be more aware of the
complexities of reading and thus be able to identify and foreground different
reading strategies; will better understand the processes of interpretation;
will become more confident about reading and discussing theory; will become
familiar with the history of theory; will become more adept at integrating the
steps required to write a critical essay that employs theory.