"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 appreciation: the latter involves expressions of your feelings and pleasure in reading, your 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 consists of careful analysis of literary texts with a conscious use of some critical frameworks and methods and an active engagement in their critical issues. (For further details on what literary criticism is, please view this animation. http://www.eng.fju.edu.tw/Literary_Criticism/video/animation/lit1.swf)

In this course, therefore, we will try to improve our abilities in:
1. analyzing literary texts from more than one critical perspective;
2. responding critically to the issues raised by the chosen theoretical, literary and cultural texts;
3. placing, with the help of some critical theories, literature and the issues involved in a larger context, such as those of the texts' contemporary society, our society and our lives.

In order to have a sense of focus in the vast fields of literature and critical theories, we will choose Gender and Nature as our major topics. The questions we discuss will be:

-- How does a text produce its meanings both through form and content? And what meanings about gender and nature are produced?
-- How does a text produce its meanings (of gender and nature) both through form and content? For instance, how are gender identities emplotted? What roles does nature take in forming gendered identities?
-- What “meanings” are there in a text which are under or beyond its author’s, its readers’ or its society’s rational control?
-- Is gender natural? Is nature gendered? Why and how?

Four (or five) critical schools will be used to help us examine the texts' meanings and hidden meanings from various Critical Perspectives:

  • New Criticism (2 wks) -- textual meanings constructed through formal unity, or with some assumptions of humanity in relation to nature.
  • Feminism & Gender Studies (5 wks) -- textual meanings about gender relations, conditioned by assumptions of gender and nature;
  • Structuralism and Poststructuralism(5 wks) -- textual meanings, meanings of gender and nature, produced by languages as systems of difference;
  • Ecocriticism (3 wks)-- textual meanings, meanings of gender and nature produced in our network society and by technologies.

: A Reader. (word doc.)
* This is NOT a course on gender and nature in literature. Rather we choose the texts related to 19th –and-twentieth-century representations of gender and/or nature in order to have a sense of thematic focus. The areas I selected the examples are:

  • 19th century: British Romantic poetry; British Victorian poetry, Pre-Raphaelite Paintings and Poetry, (possibly--but no guarantee—samples of American literature of wilderness and frontier.)
  • Modern Age -- Some Modernist short stories on women, gender relations and/or nature.
  • Postmodern Taiwanese and North American cultures and literature on nature and gender.
    As we proceed, however, you are welcome to bring in Taiwanese and cultural texts related to these topics. This, I believe, will bring Literary Criticism home to us.

  • 1 group report, 2 journals (or 3-5-page papers), 2 review quizzes and a final exam.
  • Besides the usual stuffs - attendance, punctuality and active participation, the course requires a commitment to 1) watching the films when needed; 2) using internet teaching materials outside of class and before the discussion in class.

for Group Reports and Papers: (The following are just a few of the many many possibilities)

1) Feminism and Gender Studies:

A. representation of women with a focus on rape and spectatorship;e.g.

1. literature: Romantic and Victorian Poetry; "Araby"; "I'm Running for my Life"; "Rape Fantasies" "Rape"(Adrienne Rich);
2. paintings: Ways of Seeing;
3. popular culture--music video: Dream World;
4. popular culture--films: "Rear Window";
5. popular culture--ads: Contemporary Images of Women on the Ads.

A. Women's discourse; with a focus on mother-daughter husband-wife relationship, and female artists
e.g.;1. literature -- "I Stand Here Ironing"(Tillie Olsen); "Yellow Wallpaper"; Margaret Atwood; ,A. Rich*s "Diving into the Wreck," "Snowed Up," Alice Munro's stories, and many others.
2. Film and animation -- "Greek Goddess," The Hours, I've Heard the Mermaid Singing, and many others.

C. gender studies and lesbian studies
e.g. 1. literature -- "Maidemoselle" (Maupaussante)
2. films --Crying Game, Philadelphia,《新同居時代》and Hong Kong films' representation of homosexuals.
3. popular culture ; k.d. lang; 台灣的同志運動; representation of gay and lesbian in mainstream films
4. documentaries: Tongues Untied, Out: Stories of Gay and Lesbian Youth, Paris Is Burning

2) Structuralism and Poststructuralism

A. Structuralist Readings of Narrative
1. fairy tales, folklore and soap operas with plots which are simpler (than novels or some short stories)

B. Semiotics
1. one commercial or a group of them;
2. Fashion;
C. Poststructuralism
1. texts which have a closure that can be open, or a unity which can be challenged;
2. texts which deconstruct themselves.

3) Nature & Ecocriticism

1. Romantic Poetry on Nature;
2. The other writings related to human relations with nature.