syllabus; Literary Criticism Databank

Literary Criticism
Kate Liu, Fall 2000

Objectives Approaches Textbook Requirements
Questions to Start with:
-- How do we read a text? (Here a "text" is not limited to literature, nor to "books": we ourselves can be texts, too.)  How do we produce more than one interpretations of it? How do we hold a dialogue with it or challenge it?

-- What does an author actually express in his/her work? What is "the unsaid" of the text?

--How are the meanings of a text controlled by society? Can a text transcend its society and retain universal values throughout history?

From these questions, you can tell that this is not a course designed for passive reading of long texts. The theoretic texts may be short but difficult. But with the reading/watching of literary and cultural examples, we will be actively engaged in thinking, analyzing, questioning and criticizing what we have read and, by extension, ourselves and our society.

  1. to sharpen your literary sensitivity, we will read and analyze closely a wide selection of literary texts.
  2. to make you think actively and critically, we will use four literary approaches: new criticism, psychoanalysis, feminism and reader response.
  3. to have a sense of focus and continuity, we will have a recurrent topic: different definitions of one's self.
  4. to make the theoretical issues relevant to us, we will also use Taiwanese culture and events as concrete examples.
  5. back 
In other words, the course is designed for you to interpret and analyze literature from various perspectives so that you can understand and analyze both literature and you yourselves more.  Of the approaches we will cover in the first semester--formalism, psychoanalysis, feminism, and, if possible, reader response--you will find that formalism is not really something new to you (practiced in a lot of literature courses, e.g. introduction to literature). But it will be used as a basic training of our ability to grasp a literary work as a complicated but coherent whole.

The approaches we cover in the first semester are the basic ones in the modern period, and in the second semester we will deal with more contemporary approaches (e.g. poststructuralism, marxism, cultural studies, and, if possible, postcolonialism). These approaches are arranged in such a way that the latter ones will either incorporate or extend the previous ones, so that as you move from one approach to another, you are deepening your perception about a text (which, again, could be you yourself) in the context of its author(s), readers, society and history.

Texts to analyze:
We will use literary texts as our focus, but also some films, music videos, popular songs and animations will also be used as supplements.

文學批評讀本 (劉紀雯編﹚。

Reference books: (a detailed list, with intro. to each book  )
    A。初級文學批評導論 (不介紹理論):

    B。中級文學批評導論 (含理論):

    C。參考書(guide, dictionary, topic discussions)

        Doing English: A Guide for Literature Students. Robert Eaglestone. NY: Routledge,
        Reader's Guide to Contemporary Theory (Raman Seldon. Harvester, 93)
        Eagleton, Terry. 《文學理論導讀》.吳新發譯. 台北:書林,1993.
        Lentricia, Frank, et al eds. 《文學批評術語》. 張京媛等譯. 香港:牛津大學.
        Columbia Dictionary of Modern Literary and Cultural Criticism.  Ed. Joseph Childers and Gary Hentzi.  NY: Columbia UP, 1995.

Requirements: 1A+3 P's
  1. Attendance: Attendance is essential. Three absences will constitute reason for failing the class. Please call me if you have to be absent. Three lates equals one absence.
  2. Preparation: Come to the class prepared. Being prepared means a.) finishing the reading,

  3. underlining difficult parts, finding something to say or to ask in class, and
    jot down some ideas each time on your reading journal.
  4. Participation
  5. Punctuality: papers have to be handed in on time.

  6.   Assignments and Grading policy:
  1. class participation + group report -- 20%
  2. 3 reflection/application 3 page journals --handed in the fourth week of each unit 30% -- at least two should be posted online, with one online response to the others' journals.
  3. 1 paper (could be revision of the journals) -- 40%
  4. Final exam -- 10%
Possible texts to choose for papers or group report:

Besides the texts included in our reader, you can choose from the following list:

  1. formalism: 〈母親〉or〈日曆〉in 王文興的《十五篇小說》

  2. death: and art--"Ode to a Nightingale," and love "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall"; "A Rose for Emily"; and life and Nature-- Dickenson's poems; Wordsworth's Lucy Poems
    death, aging and human relationship--"Charles and Francois" (animation)
  3. psychoanalysis: "Flowering Judas" (K.A. Porter); "Eveline"; 施叔青〈壁虎〉in《那些不毛的日子》and 李昂〈有曲線的娃娃〉in 《花季》"Araby"; "Mindscape"(animation)

  5. Feminist texts: e.g. A. Rich's "Diving into the Wreck," "Rape," M. Atwood's "Rape Fantasies"; A. Munro; 江文瑜〈男人的乳房〉〈女人.三字經.行動短劇〉
 Quizzes will be given occasionally to keep you motivated.
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