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COURSE TITLE: Unpacking the Text: Contemporary Literary Theory
CREDIT WEIGHT AND WEEKLY TIME DISTRIBUTION: credits 3(hrs lect 3 - hrs sem 0 - hrs lab 0)
COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course expands the senior student's understanding of the various theoretical approaches to literature and culture, their differences, and their effects on our position as Christian scholars. By reading the works of the major theorists and theoretical movements, students learn the key issues and terminology that inform our discipline, and their role in the student's criticism and research methods.

Prerequisites: ENGL 314
REQUIRED TEXTS: Richter, David H., ed. The Critical Tradition: Classic Texts and Contemporary Trends. Bedford: St. Martin’s, 3rd ed, 2007.
Seminar Presentation15%
Journal & Readings (5)25%
Research Essay30%
Final Exam30%
COURSE OBJECTIVES: In ENGL 404: Literary Theory from Plato to Pope, you examined the various early literary methodologies. You were also asked to think about how these schools of thought laid the foundation for contemporary ideas about literature.  This course will build on your knowledge from ENGL 404 as we continue to ask questions about the role of criticism in literature studies, and how it affects our interpretations as Christian scholars. 
The course will consist of lectures and discussion based on the assigned readings. All assigned readings must be completed before the scheduled class(es); readings are indicated on the Schedule page, but may be amended as required. Any changes will be announced at the beginning of the preceding class and indicated on the website.

In order to facilitate thoughtful discussion and engagement, students will compile a journal alongside the essays we read. These journal entries will be reflective, as well as analytical, and will include one question that the reading prompts for you, and how you might attempt to answer it. As part of this journalling, we will engage in a process of self-assessment at the beginning and end of the course, taking into consideration what you learned in ENGL 404. These reflections will be regularly submitted in written form for grading (dates will be outlined on the Schedule).

Major analytical assignments for the course include one presentation, a research essay, and a final examination.  The presentation will be selected early in the term.  It will involve orally presenting the ideas of a theorist, including a one-page written summary for everyone’s notes, and initiating the class discussion. The research essay (10-12 pages) will involve either a deeper reflection on one theory or a comparative study of two theoretical perspectives. You may use a literary text from an approved list.
  • Introduction/Syllabus Distribution
  • Theory Assessment
  • The Rise of Theory
    • Wilde, The Decay of Lying (476)
    • Leavis, The Great Tradition (652)
  • New Criticism
    • Eliot, Tradition and the Individual Talent (534)
    • Wimsatt and Beardsley, The Intentional Fallacy (810)
  • Reader Response
    • Fish, How to Recognize a Poem When You See One (1023)
    • Iser, The Reading Process (1001)
  • The Death of the Author Signs and Symbols and Deconstruction
    • Barthes, The Death of the Author (874)
    • Foucault, What is an Author? (904)
    • Derrida, Structure, Sign and Play (915)
  • Marxist Criticism and New Historicism
    • Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (1233)
    • Jameson, The Political Unconsciousness (1291)
    • Brook, The Historical Necessity for New Historical Analysis  in Intro Lit Courses
  • Gender and Feminism
    • Gilbert, Infection in the Sentence (1531)
    • Butler, Imitation and Gender Insubordination (1707-1710)
    • Culler, Reading as a Woman (1579)
  • Psychoanalytic Criticism
    • TBA
  • Post-Colonialism, Ethnicity, and Race
    • Said, Orientalism (1801)
    • Anderson, The Origins of National Consciousness (1814)
    • Spivak, Three Women's Texts (1837)
    • Gates, Writing, Race, and the Difference it Makes (1890)
  • Postmodernism
    • Lyotard, Defining the Postmodern (1933)
    • Hutcheon, Theorizing the Postmodern (1991)
    • Hooks, Postmodern Blackness (2009)
  • Postmodernism and Faith
  • Smith, "Is the Devil from Paris?" Chaper One from Who's Afraid of Postmodernism? (on reserve--Chapts 2-3 are good too)
    • Ecocriticism
    • Buell, The Ecocritical Insurgency (1432)
    • Estok, Ecocritical Theory (email me if link is broken)
  • Review

Required texts, assignments, and grade distributions may vary from one offering of this course to the next. Please consult the course instructor for up to date details.

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