ENGLISH 671  Literary Theory and Criticism  Fall 2008

 

During the past two decades, I have enjoyed teaching courses on this subject, and my own research and publications frequently draw on the latest developments in critical theory.  My goal is to help graduate students learn how to "decode" critical theories and use appropriate ideas in their own research and writing. We will study many primary works of literature. We will analyze each work in a number of contextual frameworks, and eventually we will apply those contextual frameworks to other works of our own choosing. Our objectives are to demystify the interpretive process and to understand how current questions, issues, and debates in interpretation are linked to past interpretive preferences and practices.

**ENG 671:  Literary Theory and Criticism.   This required course introduces graduate students to significant schools of literary criticism and theory.  During the semester, we will examine and assess a variety of critical approaches to reading and interpreting literature. We will study several primary works of literature as well as critical essays. We will analyze each work in a number of contextual frameworks, and eventually we will apply those contextual frameworks to other works of our own choosing. Our objectives are to demystify the interpretive process and to understand how current questions, issues, and debates in interpretation are linked to past interpretive preferences and practices. Along with intensive reading assignments from required texts and the world wide web, participants will contribute short response eesays to online discussion forums as well as complete a lengthy research paper in which theoretical models are applied to literary works.  Face-to-face classroom lectures and discussions, online reading and analysis, and out-of-class work are required of each participant in this course, which will require intensive graduate-level work on the part of participants. 

REQUIRED TEXTS: Click on link at left for details.


COURSE EXPECTATIONS:

bullet1. Conscientious attendance and participation in class discussions.
bullet2. Development and completion of documented essay.
bullet3. Successful contribution to and completion of comprehensive course examination.
bullet4. Development of reflective listening skills and respect for divergent points of view.
bullet5. Development of self-consciousness about oneís own interpretive strategies and practices.

COURSE OUTCOMES:

Upon completion of this course, participants will understand

1. the history of literary criticism in the twentieth century.

2. the major figures and developmental trends in twentieth-century literary criticism.

3. the essential questions literary theory has posed.

4. the range of critical responses that literary theory has provided.

5. the strategies for writing an upper-level documented essay on aspects of literary theory.

NOTE: If you have special needs, please talk with me immediately so that we can make appropriate arrangements. MSUís policy is as follows: "Requests for accommodation must be initiated by the student and supported by documentation of the disability indicating a current need for accommodation. Students may request accommodation through the Office of Disability Services: 507-389-2825."

 

COURSE REQUIREMENTS:

1. Online Discussion: Using the D2L delivery system, you will record your reactions/responses to readings and class discussion during the week.

2. Documented Essay:  You will select four literary theories from the theories analyzed in this course and use them to analyze a literary text of your choice. This essay is due at the last class meeting of the semester. Detailed information about this paper will be handed out during class meetings.

3. Contributions to Class Sessions:  Because this is a lecture and discussion class, your learning will take place through analysis of course readings and class discussion. Thus, the more regularly you attend class, the more you will learn; the more you learn, the better your course grade will be. Although no rule exists concerning the number of classes from which you are absent, absences will affect the quality of your course work and, by extension, your final course grade.

4. Final Comprehensive Course Examination:  This will be a take-home examination that has been created by members of our class. It will include short-answer and essay questions.

EXPECTATIONS ON ATTENDANCE, PARTICIPATION, AND INCOMPLETES:

To succeed in this course, you need to attend this class regularly.  I expect you to come to each class having read assigned readings and ready to analyze and assess the ideas in those readings. I expect you to contribute to class discussions. On occasion, you might need to be absent from class. If medical documentation is provided, absences will be excused due to hospitalization or serious illness. If you have not been attending class for a long period, however, you will need to re-take the course because an incomplete will not be available.