ENGLISH 490 - History of Literary Criticism and Theory
Section: 001 Rene Girard and Mimetic Theory
Term: FA 2018
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

The “mimetic theory” associated with René Girard (1923-2015) is a truly interdisciplinary theory engaging the fields of literary criticism, anthropology, religious studies, psychotherapy, political science, and other disciplines. Its most basic insight, first articulated by Girard in Deceit, Desire, and the Novel: Self and Other in Literary Structure (1961; trans. 1965), is that human desire is mimetic or imitative. Put simply, we borrow our desires from others, our “models” or “mediators,” and thus we are intensely social, interconnected beings. Recent neuroscience research on “mirror neurons” in the brain confirms it. From this observation, however, things become complicated; indeed, Girard developed a universal theory of all human culture following the logic of mimetic desire. This theory can be rather dark, involving mimetic rivalry, mob violence, scapegoating, sacrifice, and “strongmen.” But it also finds hope in religion, art, literature, and other expressions of culture. This course presents an introductory overview of the mimetic theory, focusing on Girard’s work, with many opportunities for textual application and criticism. Other texts to be studied include myths, selections from the Bible, fiction, and film. No previous coursework in critical theory is required or expected. Required work: papers, exams, reading quizzes.

Course Requirements:

No previous coursework in critical theory is required or expected. Required work: papers, exams, reading quizzes.

ENGLISH 490 - History of Literary Criticism and Theory
Schedule Listing
001 (REC)
Th 4:00PM - 7:00PM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

ISBN: 9780824516345
The Girard reader, Author: Rene Girard ; edited by James G. Williams., Publisher: Crossroad Reprinted. 1996
ISBN: 9780553214444
The eternal husband and other stories, Author: by Fyodor Dostoevsky ; translated and annotated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky., Publisher: Bantam Books Bantam mas 2000
ISBN: 9780226768687
Oedipus the King, Author: Sophocles ; translated and with an introduction by David Grene., Publisher: University of Chicago Press 2010
ISBN: 9780874626025
Ressentiment, Author: Max Scheler ; translation, Lewis B. Coser, William W. Holdheim ; introduction, Manfred S. Frings., Publisher: Marquette University Press New ed. 2007
ISBN: 9781611861846
Ressentiment: Reflections on Mimetic Desire and Society, Author: Stefano Tomelleri, Publisher: Michigan State University Press 2015
ISBN: 9781587318603
A theater of envy : William Shakespeare, Author: Rene Girard., Publisher: St. Augustine's Press 2004
ISBN: 9781524705466
Disgrace., Author: Coetzee, J. M., Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group 2017
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