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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Caroline Chung Simpson
ENGL 202
Seattle Campus

Introduction to the Study of English Language and Literature

Gateway course designed for English pre-majors and majors. Introduces critical, historical, and theoretical frameworks important to studying the literature, language, and cultures of English. Concurrent registration with ENGL 197 required.

Class description

Designed for English majors, this course will focus on the question and practice of close reading texts. Questions we will cover include: What are texts and why are they important? Why do we need to close read texts? What are the varying criteria for and stakes of close reading of texts, particularly at different historical and national junctures? What, finally, may be produced from close reading texts? In order to address these questions, we will read a range of theories relevant to the stakes of interpreting texts, so that we may better understand how the practices of close reading have shaped cultural, historical and national identifications. We will also read a range of primary English-language works. These are cultural texts that have been either made more meaningful for us as a result of various interpretative reading practices, or that have helped readers to think more deeply about the implications of close reading as an intellectual habit or hobby. Course lectures and discussion sections will frame and clarify the ideas in and the connections among the various primary and secondary reading materials. Our general aim will be to gauge the implications of a few key debates about texts and their interpretation. By the end of the course, students should be able to define and weigh the impact of the various approaches to textual interpretation of English-language texts, both in discussion and in written work.

Please note: English 197, a writing section linked to this course, is required of all students enrolled in English 202.

COURSE MATERIALS: Benito Cereno (Herman Melville); The Intuitionist (Colson Whitehead); Course Packet of shorter readings (available at The Ave Copy Center).

Student learning goals

Students should be able to define a few of the influential debates about the significance and practice of close reading in the study of literature and culture.

Students should also be able to define how different historical/cultural understandings of the meaning and value of a text may produce different readings.

Students should be prepared to engage in close reading in the future in a self-aware fashion, keeping in mind that every close reading has a stake in cultural and historical identifications.

General method of instruction

Large lecture, discussion sections, and small writing cell instuction.

Recommended preparation

Basic requirements for admission to the English Major.

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Caroline Chung Simpson
Date: 02/06/2008