This course is intended to be a kind of boot camp for English majors, helping you acquire some of the basic skills and methods for analyzing and writing about prose and poetry. But I will try to make the course more than preparation for the future, and hope to share with you some of the joy and intensity I feel in reading and analyzing literature. The ability to read literature is not a single one but is made up of a set of interrelated skills and attitudes. One has to be able to read a single text very closely and sensitively, becoming aware of a whole range of nuances and resonances. But one also has to have some awareness of the entire range of literature--the various genres as well as cultural contexts such as classical myth, the biblical tradition, etc. One needs to read with critical intelligence and a fierce analytical ability but one also needs to have something of the imaginative ability of a creative artist to read more intuitively and playfully, working oneself with metaphoric possibilities. One has to be able to respond to the printed words on a page, but one has to also be able to hear the words as a performance of a living voice, at least in the mind’s ear.

Most of the reading this semester will focus on literature that is directly about itself or less directly about itself by refracting its concerns through the subject matter of other media, especially the visual arts. In other words, we will examine works that are philosophically and often playfully self-reflective, such as John Barth’s “Lost in the Funhouse” and Grace Paley’s “A Conversation with My Father." Much of the semester, though, will focus on the reading of short poems related to our theme. The students themselves will choose the literature and run the discussions for the last month of the course.  Prospective students wanting further information or just willing to introduce yourselves are encouraged to contact the instructor at or 303-492-8945.

This course is restricted to English majors.
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