ENGLISH 390 - Topics in Literary Criticism and Theory
Fall 2020, Section 001 - Introduction to Literary Theory: Reading Versus Racism
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is   Hybrid (see other Sections below)
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
See additional student enrollment and course instructor information to guide you in your decision making.


Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


Why do literary studies scholars talk about racism?

As you’ll learn in this course, the answer has a lot to do with the nature of writing and representation. Literature has always been a way of understanding our world – and, as a consequence, of expressing the fantasies and phobias that constitute our most powerful social formations.

This course introduces the methods of literary and cultural studies through a focus on race and ethnicity. As we’ll learn, questions of difference, representation, and rhetoric are central to the discipline and its critical methods. To understand this intellectual formation, we will read anti-racist and feminist scholars, and we’ll also read a good number of canonical White authors. From G.W.F. Hegel to Audre Lorde, and from Charlotte Brontë to Maryse Condé, we’ll see what literature can teach us about race, ethnicity, and intellectual inquiry.

By the end of the semester, students will understand both the methods of literary and cultural studies and the philosophical underpinnings of antiracist discourse. They will develop competencies in reading literary theory and criticism, and they will be able to articulate the epistemological implications of racism and antiracism.

Required Texts:

You are required to purchase the following books for this course:

Bronte, Charlotte Jane Eyre (1847). (Any reputable publisher is acceptable.)

Condé, Maryse 1994), Trans. Richard Philcox. Crossing the Mangrove. New York: Anchor Books, 1994.

Ndebele, Njabulo. Fools and Other Stories. Johannesburg: Ravan Press, 1983.

Pound, Ezra. Cathay: A Critical Edition, Ed. Timothy Billings. Fordham University Press, 2018.

All other readings will be made available via Canvas.

Course Requirements:

You will be evaluated in this course on the basis of the following components:

Class engagement 10%

Paper One 20%

In-Class Midterm 25%

Paper Two 20%

Final Presentation 25%

Intended Audience:

Online-only students are welcome!

Class Format:

Exams: N/A

Lectures: Synchronous and Online

Class Discussions: Synchronous and Online/In-Person


ENGLISH 390 - Topics in Literary Criticism and Theory
Schedule Listing
001 (REC)
TuTh 2:30PM - 4:00PM
Partial Term 8/31/20 - 12/10/20

Textbooks/Other Materials

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