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ENGL-090-01 Methods of Literary and Cultural Studies
Spring for 2014-2015
Faculty:
  • Cima, Gay
  • How do we think? How do we make sense not just of the literary texts that we encounter but also of the cultures in which we are enmeshed? Performing as a critical thinker is a culturally-based, interpretive practice, a performance that alters over time. In this course we’ll study how scholars routinely transform the discipline called “English” by adopting new analytical methods or adapting old strategies of interpretation. We’ll begin to see that “English” is actually a collection of shifting, overlapping, and historically-grounded conversations, each with its own vocabulary, rhetorical strategies, stated and implicit goals. We’ll pay particular attention to three specific methodologies within the discipline of English: Performance Studies, African American Studies, and Feminist Studies. Throughout the semester, we’ll work to become more fully aware of the strategies that we ourselves use as we analyze texts and cultural productions of various kinds. We’ll try to identify the strengths and the blind spots of the methods that we study and employ. In addition to reading and rereading theoretical texts together, we’ll examine a host of literary and cultural texts: plays, poems, short stories, novels, films, videos, cartoons, and television shows.
    Credits: 3
    Prerequisites: HUMW 011 or equivalent; Does NOT fulfill HUMW II requirement

    Course syllabi
    The following syllabi may help you learn more about this course (login required):
    Spring '15: Cima, G (file download)
    Fall '14: Maloney E (description)
    Additional syllabi may be available in prior academic years.

    Sections:

    ENGL-090-02 Methods of Literary and Cultural Studies
    Spring for 2014-2015
    Faculty:
  • Hensley, Nathan
  • What is “English,” after all? What is reading? This course in the theory and method of literary study has two goals that might, at first, seem contradictory: (1) to introduce students to the conventions of reading, thinking, and creative concept-making crucial to flourishing as a Georgetown English major; and (2) to examine those processes from critical and historical vantages, so as to turn naïve practice into self-conscious method.

    To those ends we’ll read literary works by authors like Emily Bronte, Lewis Carroll, Bram Stoker, and J.G. Ballard alongside critical texts from a range of traditions: Marxism, psychoanalysis, historicism, formalism, gender and sexuality studies, deconstruction, and ecocriticism. In light of our literary texts, these short conceptual works will provide new models; ask new questions; and push us to see from new angles the processes of reading, interpretation, and contextualization that are the bread and butter of college English.

    This term, we will devote one unit to considering the challenges to traditional models of literary activity posed by climate change. The course will incorporate the 2015 Lannan Symposium, “In Nature’s Wake: The Art and Politics of Environmental Crisis.” To close the term, we’ll use literary methods and concepts of “environment” to examine what may be today’s most dominant cultural form, the video game.

    Throughout, our aim will be to develop a self-aware, historically-grounded sense of how we read and why -- a particularly urgent problem now, perhaps, when new media forms threaten to diminish forever our capacity to think critically. Or so we’re told. No prior exposure to “literary theory” is necessary.
    Credits: 3
    Prerequisites: HUMW 011 or equivalent; Does NOT count toward HUMW II
    ENGL-090-03 Methods of Literary and Cultural Studies
    Spring for 2014-2015
    Faculty:
  • Hensley, Nathan
  • What is “English,” after all? What is reading? This course in the theory and method of literary study has two goals that might, at first, seem contradictory: (1) to introduce students to the conventions of reading, thinking, and creative concept-making crucial to flourishing as a Georgetown English major; and (2) to examine those processes from critical and historical vantages, so as to turn naïve practice into self-conscious method.

    To those ends we’ll read literary works by authors like Emily Bronte, Lewis Carroll, Bram Stoker, and J.G. Ballard alongside critical texts from a range of traditions: Marxism, psychoanalysis, historicism, formalism, gender and sexuality studies, deconstruction, and ecocriticism. In light of our literary texts, these short conceptual works will provide new models; ask new questions; and push us to see from new angles the processes of reading, interpretation, and contextualization that are the bread and butter of college English.

    This term, we will devote one unit to considering the challenges to traditional models of literary activity posed by climate change. The course will incorporate the 2015 Lannan Symposium, “In Nature’s Wake: The Art and Politics of Environmental Crisis.” To close the term, we’ll use literary methods and concepts of “environment” to examine what may be today’s most dominant cultural form, the video game.

    Throughout, our aim will be to develop a self-aware, historically-grounded sense of how we read and why -- a particularly urgent problem now, perhaps, when new media forms threaten to diminish forever our capacity to think critically. Or so we’re told. No prior exposure to “literary theory” is necessary.
    Credits: 3
    Prerequisites: None
    ENGL-090-04 Literary History I
    Spring for 2014-2015
    Faculty:
  • Fox, Pamela
  • This course introduces majors to the diverse critical practices of “English” as an academic discipline. In the 21st century, literary study boasts a multiplicity of approaches, offering what can at times appear a rather jumbled set of possibilities: from traditional literary history to critical theories informed by other disciplines such as sociology, anthropology, linguistics, and philosophy. As such, it has also over time expanded the range of texts to be examined, adding film, television, popular music, and so on—materials from our daily lives—to an ever-burgeoning “canon” of poetry, novels, and plays. We will conduct a historicized exploration of this discipline’s evolving, shifting contours in order to understand how and why it arrived at its present form. Along the way, students will try their hand at diverse critical approaches as they read a variety of cultural texts. The Great Gatsby, that perennial favorite of high school English courses, will serve as our first ‘test case’ of interpretation; others will include Louise Erdrich’s novel Love Medicine; Anna Deavere Smith’s play Fires in the Mirror; and Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel Persepolis I, along with selected poems and short stories. Critical texts will include Lois Tyson’s Critical Theory Today: A User-Friendly Guide, 2nd Ed. and Jonathan Culler’s Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction.
    Credits: 3
    Prerequisites: None
    Other academic years
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    The academic department web site for this program may provide other details about this course.

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