|This course is designed for you to achieve three objectives:
"Theory," as Myers points out, "is not a methodology or paradigm or 'strategy' that one puts on, in order to dress for academic success. It is an argument. It is an implacable reflective struggle to work out a vexing tangle in literary experience. Nor can a theoretical argument be easily applied, as if it were an ointment; it must be thought through, point by point and in detail; it must be interlocked with, in a reflective struggle. [. . .] To accept a theorist's argument in toto because it is daring or stylish, or because others have hailed it as unanswerable, is to be neither a theorist nor a student of theory." (D. G. Myers <http://www-english.tamu.edu/pers/fac/myers/teaching_theory.html >)
In other words, theories are not to be read, comprehended and then applied neatly to some literary texts. Rather, we struggle through their language and textuality to tease out their issues and the broader issues behind them. To use Stuart Hall's term, reading theories is to "wrestle with the angels," and there are actually two types of angels to deal with: the theoretical texts and our chosen literary/cultural texts. Negotiating the differences between theories and our texts in order to make a dialogue between them possible, then, is a major task in this course.
Textbook: Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. Eds. Vincent
B. Leitch, et al. NY: Norton, 2001. Also selections from some other anthologies.
Or A Reader.