Short Course Description
What is literature? How is it structured and how does it function? Is there even such a thing? Do literary works mean whatever readers see in them? Should we rather attempt to determine their author's intention? Are works of the imagination free to create their own rules? Or do they participate in broader social and political conversations and must therefore play by theirs? How can we decide between these positions, and do we have to? Anyone who has ever pondered such questions is a literary theorist in the making. The purpose of this course is to help you develop your engagement with them by introducing you to some of the foundational texts that have shaped the academic study of literature. Through them you will be able to confront your unexamined assumptions as well as those of other people, to expand the range of your thinking about literature, and to learn how to stake out your own position on its nature and workings. Taking this introduction will also prepare you for the advanced courses and seminars on literary theory that are regularly offered by the department.
Full syllabus will be available to registered students only
READING MATERIAL: After two lessons on the origins of literary theory in ancient Greece, we shall skip to the twentieth century and read texts representative of the main theoretical trends that developed in Europe and the English-speaking world, from structuralism to poststructuralism, from the New Criticism to New Historicism, from Marxism to feminism, postcolonialism, and more. All required texts will be made available on Moodle.
EVALUATION: full attendance, with a maximum of three absences for whatever reason (10%); a midterm exam on campus (40%); a final paper (50%). Students must attend the required number of lessons and get a passing grade for the midterm exam and the final paper in order to pass the course.
COURSE POLICIES IN BRIEF: This course will be taught synchronously on Zoom and requires full attendance at all lessons (including any make-up classes) from the first day of the semester. Recordings will be provided for the purpose of revision only; watching them cannot replace following the course in real time under any circumstances. To be counted as present, you will have to arrange to spend the entire duration of the lesson in a quiet, distraction-free space with your camera switched on and your face clearly visible while refraining from all non-course-related activities. Please inform the lecturer in advance should you require any special accommodations and make every effort to obtain official recognition of your needs by the Dean of Students Office before the course begins.