Kate Liu, 2003S
English, Fu Jen

Literary Criticism: Love, Desire and Class

Spring, 2003

Objectives Requirements Textbook

"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 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 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.

Textbook:A Reader.

Suggested Texts for Group Reports: (You are not limited to the topics of love, nor the following texts.)


Literature: Stories by Poe, "Should the Wizard Hit Mommy?" (John Updike)
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 ).

Cultural Studies--

-- 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)