Theories & Methods of Literary Study (LSE)

This class is designed to
provide you with an understanding of the fundamental concepts of literary
theory, the history of literary criticism, techniques of literary research, and
strategies for scholarly writing in the field. With its broad representation of
current approaches to literary scholarship and their historical antecedents,
the course will give you opportunities to identify you own orientation within
the domain of literary studies and to develop the research methods,
interpretive procedures, and conceptual frameworks that are most conducive to
the critical projects you plan to undertake. In addition to developing your
expertise as a professional researcher and writer, the course also encourages you
to become a confident, critical reader of philosophical and theoretical

Assigned readings will include
selections ranging from ancient literary theory to examples of more recent
formalist, structuralist, poststructuralist, Marxist, historicist,
postcolonial, feminist, and queer conceptions of literary production and
reception. The reading schedule will juxtapose the earlier and primarily
European material with selections from more current and more global theoretical
conversations, including those emerging within the Pacific, to show how critics
and theorists of today continue to respond to (and in some cases to resist)
particular critical/philosophical traditions.

The course will also
introduce you to some of strands of debate in literary studies at the present
time, giving particular attention to movements that raise the question of “how
we read now,” which include proposals for “surface reading,” “distant reading,”
“reparative reading,” and other alternative models for our critical engagement
with literary texts. In different ways, these emerging perspectives on
literary-critical practice also raise questions regarding archives. On what
kinds of archive do various approaches tend to draw? What counts as an archive?
How are archives assembled, and by whom? What technical, philosophical, and
ethical problems do archives pose? For this semester, “archives” will be the
common theme for the ENG 625 classes, and it will be a recurring topic of
discussion in ENG 625B.



  • a formal seminar
  • an abstract for
    the seminar paper
  • a
    conference-style presentation
  • a 5-minute
    provocative statement as part of an in-class roundtable session on assigned
  • a brief review
    essay as part of  an exercise in research
    methods, published on an online, wiki-style Web site that will add up to a collective

Required Texts (please wait until the first day of class to purchase texts)

Brandy Nālani McDougall, The Salt Wind/Ka Makani Pa‘akai. Kuleana Oiwi, 2008.

Geoff Ryman, Was. Penguin, 1992.

Vincent B. Leich, et al.
(Eds). The Norton Anthology of Theory &
Second Edition. Norton, 2010.

a course packet