Andrew J. Meyer
Intensive study of, and exercise in, applying important or influential interpretive practices for studying language, literature, and culture, along with consideration of their powers/limits. Focuses on developing critical writing abilities. Topics vary and may include critical and interpretive practice from scripture and myth to more contemporary approaches, including newer interdisciplinary practices. Prerequisite: minimum grade of 2.0 in ENGL 197 or ENGL 297; a minimum grade of 2.0 in ENGL 202 or ENGL 301; may not be repeated if received a grade of 2.0 or higher.
"Ecocritical Practice: Reading Environments"
This course will introduce you to the “critical practice” of the study of literature. One of the ironies of the course’s catalog title is that the term “practice” implies at least two kinds of behavior: on the one hand, to “practice” is to prepare for some kind of “official” performance (e.g., basketball practice comes before the game—but what is the “game” in English?); but on the other, “practice” indicates something more fundamental: the way you do something and why, the particular actions and activities that occur within specific cultural contexts in the hopes of specific results. In the study of literature, “critical practice” is the activity of finding out how different kinds of texts arise, how they function in, circulate in, represent, and/or “shape” culture (and so the world), and how they generate, challenge, or reinforce human values. By closely attending to both poetic and narrative texts, we will “practice” the “practice” of literary criticism. There are numerous ways to perform this practice—and many debates among professionals about which are the “best” practices. In this course we will work our way toward a relatively new critical practice: ecocriticism. Ecocriticism is the critical study and analysis of literary and cultural texts in order to examine how they imagine, construct, and represent environments, and thereby imagine, re-shape, and “mobilize” environmental values.
In order to get there, however, we’ll need to spend some time familiarizing ourselves with some of the theories and critical thinking that preceded ecocriticism (from Plato to post-colonialism) before we get into some of the primary ecocritical theories.
Our literary texts will include British and American poems and narratives from nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Student work will include extensive reading and prepared class discussion, several short critical responses/discussions on a class blog, a presentation, and a 7-9 page critical essay.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Class assignments and grading