This course is designed for you to achieve three goals:
1) critical reading of both primary and secondary theoretical texts to get a general understanding of important contemporary literary theories,
2) engagement in theoretical issues (such as text and textuality, canon formation, interpretation, ideology, discourse, identity, power relations, etc.) as they arise from our reading of the primary texts, and
3) analyzing literary texts from different theoretical perspectives with an awareness of the limitations of each.
Modern and Contemporary Critical Theories form quite a complicated network of discourses which cannot be clearly divided into different camps, nor lined up in a chronological order. Instead, in between different theoretical schools, there are intersections and appropriation, contradictions and negotiations, not to mention convergence of earlier theoretical schools in later ones, or revising or discovery of earlier theorists. Different maps can be drawn of this theoretical terrain, just as different routes can be taken by students to enter, struggle with and get intellectually engaged in the theoretical issues. Among the many possible routes and many possible combinations, I tentatively choose for this course Marxism, Psychoanalysis, New Historicism, and the topic of trauma. But you are welcome to let me know what you want to study by the end of July. I will definitely include the critical school chosen by more than 3 of you, while listening to any of your suggestions and considering possible modifications.
In this course, you will be responsible for:
1) leading an active participation once in class and many times on the internet,
2) a 30-minute report on a theoretical text with an outline ready for online publication,
3) a 30-minute report on how a certain theory can be "critiqued" by, "used" on, or articulated with another literary or theoretical text.
4) a term paper of both theoretical discussion and literary application.
1. Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. Eds. Vincent B. Leitch, et al. NY: Norton, 2001. Also selections from some other anthologies.
2. Critical Terms for Literary Study. Eds. Lentricchia, Frank and Thomas McLaughlin. 2d edition. 496 p. 6-3/4 x 9-1/4 1990, 1995