The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa course catalog describes
this course as a “survey of
representative texts from Greek to modern times; e.g., Plato, Aristotle,
Sidney, Johnson, Arnold, Eliot, Barthes, Derrida, Foucault, Kristeva.” A
less reverent description might be “English 327 is English 320 on
steroids.” What I’ll actually try to provide, however, is a challenging
semester of thinking about how people have answered such questions as
“What is literature?” “What does literature do?” “What
is the value of literature?” and even “Why Literature?”
We’ll be reading a
great deal—this class is definitely a survey course—and along the way, we’ll
relate our critical and theoretical texts to a handful of literary texts,
ranging from the Elizabethan period to the present both in their year of
publication, and in their subject matter.
We’ll talk about theories of editing, issues of biography and
autobiography, formal concerns ranging from prosody to genre, historical
criticism, ideological criticism, aesthetic theory—in short, the whole range of
approaches and contexts that have clustered around what is generally referred
to as the literary.
Since this is primarily a reading course,
I’ll be assigning a number of quizzes, postings on Laulima, and short
papers—editing exercises, close readings, historical research sketches,
theoretical musings, and so forth. Students will also write reviews, summaries
of arguments, and literary manifestos. Attendance and in-class discussion will
be very important. A critical paper or theoretical paper for presentation will
be the culminating assignment for the semester.
There will also be many mandatory individual conferences on the
Vincent B Leitch et. al. eds. The
Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. Second Edition. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2010.
Stanley Wells, ed. The
History of King Lear. William Shakespeare. (Oxford World’s Classics). 2008.
(N.B. It must be this edition; we’ll be working closely with its editorial
Tom Stoppard. Arcadia: A
Play. London: Faber & Faber, 1994.
Art Spiegelman. The Complete
Maus: A Survivor’s Tale. 25th Anniversary Edition. Pantheon,
Art Spiegelman, with Hillary Chute. MetaMaus: A Look Inside a Modern Classic. Pantheon, 2011.
Toni Morrison. Beloved.
Other literary texts, provided on Laulima by the instructor.