"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, 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
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 literary
or 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 critical theories,
we will choose Love, Desire and Class as our major topics. The
questions we discuss will be:
- How does a text produce its meanings both through form and content?
- What do the texts we examine say about love, desire and class differences?
- Are there meanings hidden in the texts and/or unknown to their authors?
If so, what are they and why?
Four critical schools will be used to help us examine the texts' meanings
and hidden meanings from various perspectives:
· New Criticism (2 wks)-textual meanings constructed through formal
unity, or with the assumptions of human liberalism.
· Psychoanalysis (5 wks) -textual meanings driven or repressed by desires
of the authors or society;
· Marxism (5 wks) -textual meanings of social relations and ideologies;
· Cultural Studies (4 wks)- textual meanings produced in our culture
or global culture.
* This is NOT a course on the history of love in literature. Rather
we choose the texts related to love, desire and class difference for
a sense of thematic focus. 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.
Besides the usual stuffs - attendance, punctuality, journals, class
participation, group report and final exam, the course requires a commitment
to 1) watching the films; 2) using internet teaching materials, outside
of class and before the discussion in class.
for Group Reports: (You are not limited to the topics of love, nor the
Literature: Stories by Poe, "Should the Wizard Hit Mommy?"
Films and Popular Culture: Cat People; Psycho,
Spellbound, The Piano, Piano Teacher, I Love a Man in Uniform,
"Oedipus Rex" (Woody Allen)
Literature: "Rocking Horse Winner" (D. H. Lawrence),
"Bright Thursday" (Olive Senior), "Araby" (James
Joyce), "A Rose for Emily" (W. Faulkner), "The Aspern
Paper" (James Joyce), "A Miracle for Breakfast" (E.
Bishop), novels by Jane Austin.
Films and Popular Culture: Tess, The Lover, A Place
in the Sun, a lot of Hollywood films about love vs. money/power
(e.g. revisions of the Cinderella story such as Pretty Woman,
Working Girl, Nottinghill ).
-- novels and films by 瓊瑤,
-- poetry and novels about Romantic Love in the 19th century. (e.g.
Wuthering Heights, poems by Christina Rossetti, Emily Dickinson and
E. Barret Browning)
Films and Popular Culture:
-- Campus Folksongs on Love,
-- Contemporary Love songs by Taiwanese female singers,
-- Contemporary Taiwanese films on love in a city (e.g. 愛情萬歲，愛情來了，徵婚啟示，城市飛行，etc.),
-- Comics on love (幾米, 水瓶鯨魚)