Literary Criticism: Form and Race (Chinese version中文版)

"Ah--ha, that's great! I love it." 「本詩意境深遠,耐人尋味﹒」

Are these examples of literary criticism? No. Literary criticism is different from Literary appeciation: the latter involves expressions of your feelings and pleasure in reading, likes and dislikes of a text, while the former, as a formal training for literature majors, requires both literary sensibility and critical thinking. In other words, literary criticism involves conscious use of methods, active engagement in critical issues and rigorous development of a logical argument. 

(For further details on what literary criticism is, please view this animation.

In this course, therefore, we will try to achieve three goals

1. to improve our sensibility to literary elements; 
2. to enhance our abilities in responding critically to the issues raised by the chosen literary or cultural texts; 
3. with the help of some critical theories, to better relate these issues to our society and our selves. 

In order to have a sense of focus, we will choose form and race as our major 
topics. The questions we discuss will be: 

1. Literary Form: 

  • How does a text produce its meanings and unity?
  • Is it possible to break its textual unity? How is the text influenced by its socio-historical background? 
2. From Literary Form to Social Forms and Cultural Contexts: We will use different theories to help us engage in different kinds of contexts: 
  • Structuralism 結構主義-- Language systems (narrative systems and systems of signs)
  • Post-Structuralism 後結構主義- -textualized society
  • Post-Modernism 對後現代主義 --high-tech society and that of international capitalism 
  • Post-Colonialism 後殖民主義 --Colonial and Anti-Colonial histories
3. From social forms to our self-identity -- The above-mentioned theories might sound abstract to you. They should get more concrete as we discuss more texts from these perspectives; as we relate both texts and theories to our own world. And then we ask: 
  • How do we receive or resist different systems of languages and meanings? 
  • Does English literature support colonialism? Do does teaching of Eng Lit. do it? 
  • Do Taiwanese cultures and literature resist the different kinds of colonialism imposed on us? 
  TextbookLiterary Criticism: A Reader
  Reference books



  • Besides the usual stuffs -- journals, class participation, group report and final exam, the course requires a commitment to watching the films outside of class and before the discussion in class. Film showing time will be announced ahead of time, and I will try to make copies available for circulation. 
grading policy
  • 2 papers, each no fewer than 4 pages -- 40 %
  • Group report, Online Discussion & Class Participation -- 30%
  • Final Exam --30%
  • Failure to read or watch the assigned texts before class  can constitute reasons for failing the course.   Missing one text is equal to 1/2 absence; three absences means failing the course.


IACD, English, ELearn; Fu Jen