ENGLISH 522 - History of Literary Criticism
Section: 001 Criticism and Theory, Then and Now
Term: FA 2018
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
2 - 3
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
Advisory Prerequisites:
Graduate standing.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

Over the past twenty years, literary and cultural studies have polarized sharply around a set of ‘isms, or terms for critical methods, values, materials, and agendas. This course takes the New Historicism as its point of departure (with some glances back at the New Criticism, for orientation purposes). We read both Marxist and Foucauldian strains of New Historicist work, and we explore how both are informed by the traditions of deconstruction and psychoanalysis). Suspicion hermeneutics gets its day in court, as do the recent manifestoes against it (viz, Felski). We move next to a set of New Formalist position papers, in which we include a varied sampling of so-called surface-reading (affirmative reading, sympathetic reading, “reading with,” reparative reading).

We conclude that two-part survey by the middle of the semester, devoting the second half of the term to essays that explore materiality from the perspective of consumption rather than production (thing-theory), and, more intensively, from non- or post-dialectical perspectives that draw on phenomenology, actor-network theory, and entity/environment studies conducted in the life and physical sciences of the past thirty years. Some ecocritical practices are included in this net. The goal of the course is to familiarize students with these three orientations and, by juxtaposition and discussion, to provide critical perspectives on both their self-definition and their results.

Romanticism has long been the profession’s principal laboratory for research and development of new critical ideas and methods: for theory, in short. This has something to do with the literature itself (its “meta” dimension, its self-reflexivity), with its historical moment (Enlightenment against itself), and with the institutions and individuals shaping academic study of this period from the 1950s on. Many of the readings will be drawn from the corpus of Romanticist criticism, thus much of the primary text material referenced in these essays will come from 19th (and some 20th) century literature—mostly British but some American. HOWEVER: I am specifically designing this course for students of other periods and literatures, and will ask that students’ presentations reflect their own scholarly interests so that we can learn from each other about the potentials of these jostling ‘isms’ within different area and period studies.

ENGLISH 522 - History of Literary Criticism
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
TuTh 2:30PM - 4:00PM
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