a blue door surrounded by booksIntroduces students to a wide range of critical theories that English majors need to know. Covers major movements in modern literary/critical theory, from Matthew Arnold through new criticism to contemporary postmodern frameworks. Required for all English majors.

Requisites: Restricted to English (ENGL) majors and minors only.
Additional Information:Arts Sci Gen Ed: Distribution-Arts Humanities
Departmental Category: General Literature and Language

This course introduces students to a wide range of critical theories that English majors need to know. We’ll begin with some basic questions about literary texts: How can we understand documents from the past? What is the critic’s role? How do words become literature? Classical and formalist approaches will help us with key concepts. We’ll also consider “theory” as a body of thought that has broadened our sense of what texts can tell us and what influences their production. We’ll pay particular attention to the movement known as structuralism. Our readings show how literary studies can overlap other disciplines and change our thinking; we’ll emphasize practical exercises and putting ideas in our own words. 

Taught by Paul Neimann.

Some 2,400 years ago Plato worried the great tragedies he loved would need to be banned for his ideal Republic to function properly. The question of the role of poetry, broadly a blue collage of people readingunderstood, has been debated ever since. Indeed, the COVID-19 era has once again highlighted the importance of literature and the arts. In this course, we shall enter into this conversation by studying modern and contemporary works from a wide range of fields in order to debate why literature matters to us individually and collectively and what studying it involves.

Works by such authors as Plato, Kant, Marx, Arnold, Saussure, Freud, Benjamin, Althusser, JFK, Derrida, Foucault, Sontag, hooks, Said, Lowe, and Piketty

Taught by Catherine Labio.

This course is intended to introduce students to the most influential theoretical/critical movements that have shaped literary studies since 1945. Organized as a survey, the course will work towards a breadth of coverage, rather than undertaking in-depth analyses of any particular school or practice. We will examine works of new criticism, psychoanalysis, structuralism, and poststructuralism; media studies, postcolonialism, and posthumanism; and gender, racial, and queer theory. The emphasis of this course is to provide a foundation for further theoretical and literary inquiry.

Taught by Jason Gladstone.

Banksy muralThis course will examine the major literary theory paradigms of the post-World War II era, including Marxism, structuralism, psychoanalysis, deconstruction, feminism, queer theory, race theory, body theory, and reader-response. We shall do readings of particular texts based on these theoretical paradigms. Class grade will be determined through exams, papers, presentations, and attendance. There will be two or three mandatory evening film screenings.

Taught by Mark Winokur.