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ENGL-090-01 Methods of Literary and Cultural Studies
Fall for 2014-2015
This course aims to give students a coherent understanding of various theoretical and critical tools used to interpret texts by introducing them to strategies of close reading and to larger discussions regarding textual analysis. Although the course will not encompass the entire history of literary and cultural criticism, it will examine a range of schools and methods. These schools and methods will be grounded historically and will be situated and contextualized within larger critical conversations that have developed over time. Specifically, we will explore a range of theoretical approaches to literature and culture in concert with reading several of the works of Shakespeare. While critical theory tends to draw ideas and perspectives from “non-literary” fields such as history, linguistics, psychology, and economics, many of theory’s innovators have developed their ideas through reading the plays and poetry of Shakespeare. We will not only consider the ways in which Shakespeare’s texts have influenced the formation of various theoretical perspectives, but we will also read from his work across different literary genres, and study literary criticism from different theoretical schools on these plays and poems.

Course Goals:

This course will:

• Introduce you to a range of contemporary approaches to reading that have defined the academic study of literature and culture
• Provide historical context for the development of these perspectives
• Ask you to read and analyze Shakespeare’s texts closely and from different theoretical perspectives
• Ask you to share your discoveries in class conversations and in written form
• Provide you with research skills necessary to identify and evaluate new theoretical or critical trends and contemporary debates about theory

This course does not fulfill the requirements for HUMW2.
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):
Fall '14: Maloney E (description)
Additional syllabi may be available in prior academic years.


ENGL-090-02 Methods of Literary and Cultural Studies
Fall for 2014-2015
  • Maloney, Eddie
  • What is literary theory? For that matter, what is literature? Why do people write it? Why do we read it? And more importantly, at least for our purposes this semester, how do we read it? What are the methods we use to interpret and communicate about literature? These are the fundamental questions of this course.

    In order to address these questions, we will spend this semester reading broadly through the history of contemporary critical and literary theory, including surveying a variety of approaches and methods for reading and interpreting literature. We will explore the relationship between literature, ideology, ethics, and cultural issues as explored in literary theory, and we will read a number of literary works that inform and are informed by these issues.

    By the end of the semester, it is my hope that you will:

    Be able to discuss reading as an analytical, hermeneutic act that is a complex, cultural and historical practice that has changed over time;

    Begin to interrogate your own reading processes and assumptions, while learning to apply new modes of analysis to literary texts;

    Become familiar with the features and history of the landscape of literary and critical theory;

    Begin to enter into the critical and theoretical conversation about literature that defines our discipline.

    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: everything from plays, poems, short stories, novels, films, and videos to cartoons, toys, and television shows.
    Credits: 3
    Prerequisites: HUMW 011 or equivalent; Does NOT count toward HUMW II
    Other academic years
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    More information
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    The academic department web site for this program may provide other details about this course.

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