Spring, 2000 Kate Liu

Final Exam


The approaches we take will be: Marxism, structuralism/semiotics, 
poststructuralism/postmodernism, and, depending on your interest, cultural studies 
or postcolonialism.  Like Literary Criticism (I), we will learn to 

  • analyze literary work as well as other cultural products from different critical perspectives.
One major difference from Literary Criticism (I) is that 
  • we will focus more on placing the text in its (broader) context.  To put it simply,
  • for Marxism, it is society as a class structure; 
  • for structuralism/semiotics, the context is linguistic (narrative or semiotic) system; 
  • for poststructuralism, it is society as a textual field; 
  • for postmodernism, it is contemporary high-tech society and all kinds of de-centering tendencies; 
  • for postcolonialism, it is the histories of colonialism and anti-colonialism, and 
  • for cultural studies, "culture" as a whole way of life which includes both high art and popular culture, top-down control and bottom-up resistance.

Wow, so much and so -- abstract.  To make the theories more concrete and closer to us, we will read literary texts, as well as other cultural products as examples.  To have a sense of focus, we will have as our central themes Capitalism and Society and examine literary texts about them.  Examining the 
texts from different perspectives, we will ask: 

--  How do the texts present different cultures and societies?  How do different 
cultures and societies influence the production of a certain text?  Can literary work transcend its time and society? 
--  How do the texts as cultural products embody different ideas or use different 
--  How do we read cities, their signs and their spatial arrangements? 
More and more interesting questions will be asked as we start our discussion in 
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Textbook: Literary Criticism: An Introduction to Theory and Practice
+  handouts  (for instance, excerpts from Roland Barthes' Mythologies and Fredric Jameson's Postmodernism and Cultural Theories [Chinese Translations]) .

Reference books:

* Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory.  Peter Barry.  NY: Manchester UP, 1995.

* Critical Theory & Practice: A Coursebook (Keith Green & Jill Lebihan. Routledge, 96)

* Reader's Guide to Contemporary Theory (Raman Seldon. Harvester, 93)

Practicing Theory and Reading Literature (Raman Seldon. Kentucky, 89)

A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature (W. Guerin, et al. 3rd ed. Oxford, 92)

Literary Theory : A Practical Introduction.  Michael Ryan. MA: Blackwell, 1999.

Theory into Practice: A Reader in Modern Literary Criticism.  K. M. Newton.  London: Macmillan P, 1992.

Literary Theories in Praxis.   Ed. Staton, Shirley.  Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P,1987. 


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Requirements & Grading Policy -- tentative: to be modified according to your performances. 

  • Attendance and Participation -- essentail. 3 absences means failing the course.
  • online responses to the others' journals  10%
  • 2 journals  20 %
  • 1 group report 20%
  • 1 mid-term paper (should be a revision of your journals) 30%

  • a final exam (format to be decided)  20%
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