A course that identifies and explores key concepts of recent critical theory. Students read short texts of contemporary theory and discuss the relation between theory and literature. Required for English majors.
Instructor: Professor Rosemary Hennessy
ENGL 300: Practices of Literary Study
Literary study in the early twenty-first century brings together decades-long debates over ways of thinking about meaning, language, literature, and culture as well as new approaches that are reimagining the act of reading. Throughout this dynamic process the boundaries of the discipline of English are being continually redrawn.
We might think of this ongoing transformation of literary studies as the theoretical and cultural articulation of social changes that have been global in scope. Among them are the growth of
digital and bio technologies; more flexible forms of labor and imperialism; the intensification of consumer culture; and the planetary crisis of global warming.
These developments have been accompanied by a host of uneven cultural shifts provoking new forms of identity, structures of feeling, objects of inquiry, and—you guessed it—ways of reading.
In this course we will encounter some of the literary and cultural theories that have articulated these changes and some of the broad rubrics that continue to shape reading practices in the field—attention to textuality and form, to history, the representation of culture’s subjects and objects, and to visual culture in various forms.
Over the course of the semester, you will learn to read closely and historically, to differentiate among modes of reading, and to engage poetry, the novel, and film as conceptually rich interlocutors with theoretical texts. In so doing, you will become a more agile and adept creative & critical reader & writer.
The course will be organized around the areas of specialization in the new English major: