Syllabus: Fall, 2002
A. Required Texts:
(1) Kelley Griffith, Writing Essays About Literature: A Guide and Style Sheet. Thomson Heinle, 2002.
(2) Anne B. Dobie, Theory into Practice: An Introduction to Literary Criticism. Thomson Heinle, 2002.
(3) Vincent B. Leitch, ed., The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. Norton, 2001; herafter cited as NTC.
B: Course Aims and Requirements:
The aims of this course are to develop the student’s skills in: (a) textual exegesis, (b) use of library resources and bibliographic materials, and (c) application of various theoretical methods of analysing literature. Students should make full use of the opportunity thereby presented to familiarise themselves not only with the texts on which they themselves are researching but to learn from their fellow researchers about other texts on the Master of Arts Comprehensive Examination Reading List. The following requirements comprehend these aims:
(1) explication of an assigned text: oral presentation (10%) and typed summary (10%);
(2) a bibliographic essay (5-6 pages of double-spaced type, and a list of sources) assessing the current state of research on a text assigned from the Master of Arts Comprehensive Examination Reading List: oral presentation (10%), written paper (20%);
(3) a critical essay (5-6 pages) analysing a different text from the M.A. Reading List from one theoretical perspective: oral presentation (10%), written paper (25%);
(4) class participation (15%): responding constructively to other students’ presentations, and contributing to class discussion;
(5) class attendance.
C. Weekly Class Assignments:
Week 1: Sept 5: Introduction: Assignment of texts for (a) explication and (b) bibliographic/critical essays. The class will be divided into three groups, with staggered deadlines for the assignments in each category. Griffith, Chs. 8 & 9.
Week 2: Sept 12: (a) Critical Theory: Formalisms: John Crowe Ransom, “Criticism, Inc.;” Boris Eichenbaum, The Theory of the “Formal Method” (in NTC); Dobie, Ch. 3; (b) Group 1: Explications of individual texts: 10 minutes max. Written summary (two pages of double-spaced type) due with oral presentation.
Week 3: Sept 19: (a) Critical Theory: Reader-Response Approaches: Wolfgang Iser, “Interaction between Text and Reader,” (in NTC); Dobie, Ch. 7; (b) Group 2: Explications.
Week 4: Sept 26: (a) Critical Theory: Marxism: Raymond Williams, Marxism and Literature (in NTC); Dobie, Ch. 5; (b) Group 3: Explications.
II: BIBLIOGRAPHIC REPORT/ESSAY:
Week 5: Oct 3: Introduction to Library Resources: Library tour conducted by Julie Still; use of IRIS, MLA CD-ROM and Humanities Index; Griffith, Ch. 11.
Week 6: Oct 10: (a) Critical Theory: Feminism: Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own; Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex (in NTC); Dobie, Ch. 6.
Week 7: Oct 17: (a) Critical Theory: Structuralism: Northrop Frye, “The Archetypes of Literature;” Ferdinand de Saussure, Course in General Linguistics; (in NTC); (b) Group 1: Bibliographic oral report on assigned text (15 minutes max.); bibliographic essay for this group due Oct 24.
Week 8: Oct 24: (a) Critical Theory: Deconstruction: Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology (in NTC, pp. 1822-1830); Dobie, Ch. 8; (b) Group 2: Bibliographic oral report; bibliographic essay due Oct 31.
Week 9: Oct 31: (a) Critical Theory: New Historicism: Michel Foucault, History of Sexuality (in NTC, pp. 1648-1666); Dobie, Ch. 9; (b) Group 3: Bibliographic oral report; bibliographic essay due Nov 7.
III: CRITICAL ESSAY:
Week 10: Nov 7: (a) Critical Theory: Postcolonialism: Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth; Edward Said, Orientalism; (b) Introduction to critical essay.
Week 11: Nov 14: Due from all groups: one-page typed summary of plan for critical essay.
Week 12: Nov 21: Group 1: Oral report on a theoretical approach to assigned text (20 minutes max.).
Week 13: Dec 5: Group 2: Oral report, as above; Group 3: Oral report.
Week 14: Dec 12: Critical essays of ALL groups due.
Guide to Assignments:
(I) Explication of a text:
See Griffith, Chs. 3, 4,5, 7.
(II) Bibliographic Report and Essay:
This assignment will require thorough knowledge of recent published research and criticism of a given text on the M.A. Comprehensive Reading List. The following general procedure might be followed:
(a) Locate the most recent comprehensive bibliography of articles and books relevant to your text. Such a bibliography may exist in one of several possible formats: a separate volume; an article in a journal; an appendix to a recent critical biography of the author/text; part of the proceedings of a conference on the author/text; part of a critical study of a period or genre. Ask the librarian whether you should search a database to locate the bibliography. Obtain a copy of it, through inter-library loan if necessary.
(b) In your report and essay, refer to this comprehensive bibliography as your baseline. Do not include critical or biographical works published before this bibliography except for the few standard works on your author/text, and the crucial studies which have moved critical discussion of the author/text in a new direction.
Concentrate on finding books and articles which have appeared since the baseline bibliography was published. To locate these, use indexes of research, review articles in the closing pages of journals, and databases. Obtain copies, or at least reviews, of as many of these items as you can. Look for some logical pattern according to which they may be discussed. Should there be too many items for you to read, or if they are not readily obtainable, you should note this in your essay and use your own discretion as to which of them merit inclusion.
(c) In your presentation, identify trends in contemporary thought about your assigned text: where does it stand in critical esteem relative to commensurable works? Has its own critical standing altered? How has it prospered or suffered in the wake of the recent debate over diversifying the canon? What recurring problems of philosophy, religion, artistic technique or political allegiance are addressed by the commentators on this text? Attempt to assess the quality of recent work as well as opportunities for further research revealed by recent discoveries, new critical methods or fresh historical information about your text/author.
(d) Prepare the information in outline form for oral presentation (15 minutes), and as an essay (5-6 pages of double-spaced type), followed by an inclusive list of the most significant items of recent research you found.
(III) Critical Essay:
The text for this essay will be different from that for the bibliographic essay.Good criticism is usually informed by awareness of previous work on a text/author. The critical essay will analyse closely the given text from one recent theoretical perspective (or, possibly, a combination of perspectives). Students should display a thorough grasp of the critical approach they use in terms of both its basic principles and knowledge of previous works which have adopted that approach. This analysis should also indicate possible new directions of critical interpretation.
An outline should be prepared for oral delivery (20 minutes); the written essay (5-6 pages of double-spaced type) will be due in the last class.