Henry J. Staten
Contemporary criticism and theory and its background in the New Criticism, structuralism, and phenomenology.
For SPRING 2003: This course is an introduction to the revolution in ways of thinking about literature and literary criticism that has taken place in the last few decades. Beginning with Structuralism, and followed by Post-structuralism, Deconstruction, Feminism, Queer Theory, New Historicism, and Post-Colonialism, a whole array of new “theories” has emerged. While there is a great deal of disagreement among proponents of these various approaches, all of them together constitute something of a new synthesis that is in fundamental ways opposed to the older “humanistic” criticism.
By the end of this course you should be able to understand what the preceding paragraph means.
We will not be able in the course of ten weeks to cover all of the developments described above, but we’ll do as much as possible. We will read texts by Aristotle, T.S. Eliot, Levi-Strauss, Foucault, Derrida, Marx, Butler, and others.
Class Assignments and Grading
You will write an opening two page paper on Aristotle at the end of the first week, 3-4 page midterm paper, and a final paper of 5-7 pages in which you will be asked to put together some of these ideas in a coherent way. Class attendance is essential. Anyone not attending class with strict regularity is by definition not serious about this class, and will be treated accordingly.