Reading with Intention: Contemporary Literary Theory

EN 4353/6353-T/TH 9:30

Would you be offended if someone called you a Freudian, deconstuctionist, queer theorist, feminist or a Foucauldian? What does this type of name-calling have to do with literary studies? In this course we will examine recent trends in critical theory that have helped shape literary studies in the 21 st century. As we read selections from the major cultural and literary theorists from the last century, we will keep the following question in mind: Why do literary critics ask the kinds of questions that they do about the books they read?

During the semester we will examine the major schools in critical theory-from new criticism, psychoanalytic criticism, and feminism to post-colonialism, queer theory, deconstruction, and postmodernism-and we will apply tenets of these schools to texts such as Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, Don Delillo's White Noise, and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. We will also watch the film L.A Confidential.

Students will keep a reading journal, write three 4-5 page essays, give a presentation with a partner, and have a final exam; graduate students will write one short paper and a 15 page final essay, and have a final exam.

Reading cartoon