Introduction to Literary Theory and Criticism: This course introduces students to the discipline of literary studies by exploring in depth how it has been formed through literary theory and criticism. Two central questions—what is literature? and how do people critique it?—frame this course, guiding our study of some basic theories of the relationships peculiar to a literary work, its author, its audience members, and the worlds in which these entities meet. Because the course is both a required course for English majors as well as an Explorations Core elective for non-majors, reading and writing assignments are designed to meet two interrelated goals: to explore literary ways of knowing by practicing different methods of literary analysis (including romanticism, formalism, structuralism, and post-structuralism), and to situate these theoretical developments amid major social developments of the past two centuries (including marxist, feminist, anti-racist, and postcolonial struggles). By the end of the semester, students should be able to explain how and why no reading or writing can ever be free of theory.
Students are encouraged to add their own description of their learning from the course to the official course description above. As a student adds artifacts to this page, it is important to provide a brief description of the artifacts, perhaps using a list structure produced below
- Paper One: Romanticist Beauty explores just why Romanticism fits the true ideal of beauty.
- Paper Two: Feminist Ideals over time, takes a look at the change that feminism has undergone since its start.
- Final Paper: An essay on the universal appeal of Sun Wukong and how his character inspired monkey lore for the ages.