ENGL301 - Critical Methods in the Study of Literature

What's a "text"? How does it work (on) us? When given a "text," what might you do with it? How might you read it in ways that illuminate its complexities, effects, operations, and hidden issues (and agenda)? English 301 will examine these questions through close, critical reading of "texts" broadly defined, which will include but not be limited to films, novels, poems, short stories, visuals, and multimedia clips. You will learn the basics of various critical approaches and use them as a lens to diversify your ability to interpret a wide range of things--literature, artifacts in everyday life, and culture at large. The critical approaches we will learn are more broadly known as critical theory or literary theory. We will not study theory as an abstract, esoteric concept, but we will situate it as a practical tool and practice for expanding your perspectives about the ways you might read and write about "texts" you will encounter as an English major and in daily life. Among some of the theories we may examine include New Criticism, structuralism, deconstruction, Marxism, feminisms, race and postcolonialism, sonic literacy, and rhetorical criticism. Collectively, these theories will broaden your critical sensibility and power, enabling you to become a more thoughtful, imaginative and multidimensional interpreter of "texts" in the classroom and beyond. Class will be conducted as an interactive seminar and writing workshop. Assignments may include 4-5 short essays, concept quizzes, and using-theory-to-make-sense-of-daily-life presentation. Weekly viewing of films and readings are expected.


Must be in English Language and Literature program; or must be in Secondary Educ: English Language Arts program.