syllabus; Literary Criticism Databank
Literary CriticismKate Liu, Fall 1999
Objectives     Approaches

Textbook  Requirements

Questions to Start with:

-- How do we read a text? (Here a "text" is not limited to literature, nor to "books": we can be texts, too.) How do we produce more than one interpretations of it? How do we hold a dialogue with it or challenge it?

-- What does an author actually express in his/her work? What is "the unsaid" of the text?

--How are the meanings of a text controlled by society? Can a text transcend its society and retain universal values throughout history?

From these questions, you can tell that this is not a course designed for passive reading of long texts. The theoretic texts may be short but difficult. But with the reading/watching of literary and cultural examples, we will be actively engaged in thinking, analyzing, questioning and criticizing what we have read and, by extension, ourselves and our society.

  1. to sharpen your literary sensitivity, we will read and analyze closely a wide selection of literary texts.
  2. to make you think actively and critically, we will use four literary approaches: new criticism, psychoanalysis, feminism and reader response.
  3. to have a sense of focus and continuity, we will have a recurrent topic: different definitions of one's self.
  4. to make the theoretical issues relevant to us, we will also use Taiwanese culture and events as concrete examples.
In other words, the course is designed for you to interpret and analyze literature from various perspectives so that you can understand both literature and you yourselves more. Of the approaches we will cover in the first semester--formalism, psychoanalysis, feminism, and, if possible, reader response--you will find that formalism is not really something new to you (practiced in a lot of literature courses, e.g. introduction to literature). But it will be used as a basic training of our ability to grasp a literary work as a complicated but coherent whole.

The approaches we cover in the first semester are the basic ones in the modern period, and in the second semester we will deal with more contemporary approaches (e.g. poststructuralism, marxism, cultural studies, and, if possible, postcolonialism). These approaches are arranged in such a way that the latter ones will either incorporate or extend the previous ones, so that as you move from one approach to another, you are deepening your perception about the text in the context of its author, readers and society as a whole.

Texts to analyze:
We will use literary texts as our focus, but also some films, music videos, popular songs and animations will also be used as supplements.
Literary Criticism: An Introduction to Theory and Practice + handouts (mostly from the following books with *)
Reference books:
* Critical Theory & Practice: A Coursebook (Keith Green & Jill Lebihan. Routledge, 96)

* Reader's Guide to Contemporary Theory (Raman Seldon. Harvester, 93)

Practicing Theory and Reading Literature (Raman Seldon. Kentucky, 89)

A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature (W. Guerin, et al. 3rd ed. Oxford, 92)

Literary Theory : A Practical Introduction.  Michael Ryan. MA: Blackwell, 1999.


Eagleton, Terry. ¡m¤å¾Ç²z½×¾ÉŪ¡n¡D§d·sµoĶ¡D¥x¥_¡G®ÑªL¡A1993

Lentricia, Frank, et al eds. ¡m¤å¾Ç§åµû³N»y¡n¡D±i¨Ê´Dµ¥Ä¶¡D ­»´ä¡G¤û¬z¤j¾Ç¡A1994¡D

Requirements: 1A+3 P's
  1. Attendance: Attendance is essential. Three absences will constitute reason for failing the class. Please call me if you have to be absent. Three lates equals one absence.
  2. Preparation: Come to the class prepared. Being prepared means a.) finishing the reading,

  3. underlining difficult parts, finding something to say or to ask in class, and
    jot down some ideas each time on your reading journal.
  4. Participation
  5. Punctuality: papers have to be handed in on time.

  6.   Assignments and Grading policy:
  1. class participation + at least one online discussion 10%
  2. 4 reflection/application journals --handed in the third week of each unit 20%
  3. 2 papers¡X60%
  4. 1 group report¡X10%
possible texts to choose for papers or group report:
  1. formalism: ¡q¥À¿Ë¡ror¡q¤é¾ä¡rin ¤ý¤å¿³ªº¡m¤Q¤­½g¤p»¡¡n

  2. death: and art--"Ode to a Nightingale," and love "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall"; "A Rose for Emily"; and life and Nature-- Dickenson's poems; Wordsworth's Lucy Poems
    death, aging and human relationship--"Charles and Francois"
  3. psychoanalysis: "Flowering Judas" (K.A. Porter); "Eveline"; ¬I¨û«C¡q¾Àªê¡rin¡m¨º¨Ç¤£¤òªº¤é¤l¡nand §õ©ù¡q¦³¦±½uªº«½«½¡rin ¡mªá©u¡n



    Feminist texts: e.g. A. Rich's "Diving into the Wreck," "Rape," M. Atwood's "Rape Fantasies"; A. Munro;  ¦¿¤å·ì¡q¨k¤Hªº¨Å©Ð¡r¡q¤k¤H¡D¤T¦r¸g¡D¦æ°Êµu¼@¡r®O±Kªºµû½×"The Feminist Poetic of Xia Yu" (in English)

¡@Quizzes will be given occasionally to keep you motivated.
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