Henry J. Staten
Contemporary criticism and theory and its background in the New Criticism, structuralism, and phenomenology.
English 304 Professor Staten
We will study some of the most influential critical theories of the last fifty years (cultural and gender studies, deconstruction), and also some of the foundational ideas of traditional literary criticism which exemplify what it is that recent theory was reacting against and “deconstructing." (mimesis, Romanticism, realism, “New Criticism").
Backgrounds: Aristotle, selections from Poetics Wordsworth, selections from the Preface to the Lyrical Ballads selections from Henry James, “The Art of Fiction." Cleanth Brooks, “The Heresy of Paraphrase"
Recent and contemporary trends: Volosinov, selections from Marxism and the Philosophy of Language Derrida, “Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences" Girard, “To Entrap the Wisest" Foucault, “What is an Author?" Stanley Fish, “How to Recognize a Poem When you See One" Judith Butler, “Imitation and Gender Insubordination" James Clifford, selections from "Identity in Mashpee" Walter Michaels, "The No-drop rule"
Student learning goals
Our goals are simple: to read these difficult texts very carefully, and learn to write about them in a lucid and comprehensible way.
General method of instruction
No prerequisites necessary.
Class assignments and grading
You will be asked to write three essays of between 2-5 pages. These essays will be analytical and expository. Their main purpose will be to give you an opportunity to show how carefully you have studied the texts and thought about them.
Your grade will be based mostly on your papers, but I will also take class participation into account. Because some of my best students are very quiet, I define participation primarily as attendance. If you miss more than five classes you take a chance on having your grade lowered.