Intro to English Studies

This course introduces the student to the field of English studies. Topics have evolved dramatically over the past few decades regarding what gets studied (film, social practice, cultural institutions, literature, speech, etc.) as well as the how of reading, thinking and writing about these cultural areas of study. Of particular interest will be the theoretical approaches (New Criticism, Structuralism, Poststructural, Cultural, Gender, and Postcolonial studies, Ecocriticism, and more) that cause one to see literature or cultural artifacts and practices differently. Like an ophthalmologist who switches lenses to see how things look as a result, theoretical lenses help us see differently. Whether the view is “better” will be a subject of discussion. We will also attempt to gain a sense of the journey that brought us to where we are at present in English Studies and where we may be headed as a field.

We will read novels, poems, examine a film, and read a considerable amount of material about theoretical approaches. We will look at one “classic” and traditional novel (Gatsby) from 4-5 differing critical approaches and then look at another novel (Ceremony) as an example of postcolonial and indigenous writing and theory. A look at a recent film (Matrix) will allow us to see postmodern content and structure at work as well. We will finish with a focused examination on environmental criticism, ecocriticism, and some poems from Pacific islanders.

Several short papers (3-4) will be required along with a medium size paper (4-6) and several quizzes and a final. The papers will be very focused but also will emphasize research writing techniques and requirements.

There will be considerable amount of material supplied online, but also some required texts: a tentative list books needed to be purchased follows:
Gatsby, Fitzgerald
Ceremony, Silko
Selected Poetry, Jeffers