Undergraduate Course: Reading Theory (ENLI10363)
|School||School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures
||College||College of Humanities and Social Science
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||This course offers a seminar-based introduction to major schools of literary and critical theory, aiming to help students understand the key debates which have shaped the discipline of literary studies over the last century. It is focused around the idea of "reading theory" in three senses of that phrase. Firstly, it aims to foster the critical reading and analytic skills required to make sense of what may appear complex and forbidding texts: how do we read theory? Secondly, it introduces distinctions between different types of critical reading to help differentiate between and compare theoretical positions. Finally, it aims to link theoretical positions back to the practice of reading, asking in each case what sort of reading does this approach to literature entail, and encouraging students to develop their own understanding of the study of literature. Topics to be covered will include aesthetic, political, linguistic and historical approaches to reading literature, along with more contemporary critical questions such as the impact of technology and globalization.
This course has been designed to minimise overlap with ENLI10306 Critical Practice: Criticism. Students who have taken the latter course will find it helpful background; students who have not taken that course will not be disadvantaged.
Week 1.Criticism, Theory and Reading.
- Marx, various extracts [NTC: 647-676];
- Nietzsche, "On Truth and Lying in a Non-Moral Sense" [NTC: 764-774];
- Freud, from The Interpretation of Dreams [NTC: 814-824];
- Barbara Herrnstein Smith, "Contingencies of Value" [NTC: 1798-1818].
Week 2. Authors and Readers.
- Roland Barthes, "The Death of the Author" [NTC: 1322-1326];
- Stanley Fish, "Interpreting the Variorum" [NTC: 1974-1992];
- Annette Kolodny, "Dancing through the minefield" [NTC: 2045-2067].
Week 3. The Frankfurt School: History and Politics.
- Gyorgy Lukacs, from The Historical Novel [NTC: 909-921]
- Walter Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Its Mechanical Reproducibility" [NTC: 1051-1071];
- Adorno & Horkheimer, from Dialectic of Enlightenment [NTC: 1110-1127];
- Fredric Jameson, "Postmodernism and Consumer Society" [NTC: 1846-1860].
Week 4. Structuralism and Language.
- Ferdinand de Saussure, from Course in General Linguistics [NTC: 850-867];
- Mikhail Bakhtin, from "Discourse in the Novel" [NTC: 1076-1086];
- Roman Jakobson, from "Linguistics and Poetics" [NTC: 1144-1152].
Week 5. Psychoanalysis and Language.
- Jacques Lacan, from "The Agency of the Letter in the Unconscious" [NTC: 1169-1181]; from "The Signification of the Phallus" [NTC: 1181-1189];
- Julia Kristeva, from Revolution in Poetic Language [NTC: 2071-2080].
Innovative Learning Week
Week 6. From Feminism to Queer Theory
- Simone de Beauvoir, from "The Second Sex" [NTC: 1625-1273];
- Monique Wittig, "One is Not Born a Woman" [NTC: 1906-1913];
- Judith Butler, from Gender Trouble [NTC: 2540-2552];
- Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, from Epistemology of the Closet [NTC 2470-2477];
- Judith Halberstam, "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Men, Women and Masculinity" [NTC: 2638-2653].
Week 7. Post-Structuralism: from sovereignty to power.
- Michel Foucault, from Discipline and Punish [NTC: 1490-1502]; from The History of Sexuality [NTC: 1502-1521].
- Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, from Thousand Plateaux [NTC: 1454-1462]
- Michel Hardt and Antonio Negri, from Empire [NTC: 2621-2635]
Week 8. Essay Completion Week
Week 9. Technology and Posthumanism.
- N. Katherine Hayles, from How We Became Posthuman [NTC: 2165-2187];
- Donna Haraway, "Manifesto for Cyborgs" [NTC: 2190-2220].
Week 10. Deconstruction and the politics of writing.
- Plato, from Phaedrus [NTC: 77-83];
- Claude Levi-Strauss, from Tristes Tropiques [NTC: 1277-1286];
- Jacques Derrida, from Dissemination [NTC: 1697-1734].
Week 11. Reading the contemporary: globalization, identity, labour.
- Jacques Derrida, from Specters of Marx [NTC: 1734-1744];
- bell hooks, "Postmodern Blackness" [NTC: 2507-2516];
- Lisa Lowe, Work, Immigration, Gender: New Subjects of Cultural Politics [NTC: 2519-2535];
- Paul Gilroy, from The Black Atlantic [NTC: 2556-2575];
- Andrew Ross, from "The Mental Labour Problem" [NTC: 2578-2597].
Information for Visiting Students
|Pre-requisites|| A MINIMUM of 4 college/university level literature courses at grade B or above (should include no more than one introductory level literature course). Related courses such as civilisation or other interdisciplinary classes, Freshman Year Seminars or composition/creative writing classes/workshops are not considered for admission to this course. Applicants should also note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission. In making admissions decisions preference will be given to students who achieve above the minimum requirement with the typical visiting student admitted to this course having 4 literature classes at grade A.
** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
Course Delivery Information
|Not being delivered|
| By the end of the course students should be able to:
- Demonstrate detailed knowledge and comparative understanding of a range of theoretical approaches to literary studies.
- Critically analyse and contextualise key writings by literary, critical and cultural theorists.
- Critically reflect on their own approach to literary study in the light of the theories studied.
|Primary texts: will be drawn from the Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. As this is a compulsory purchase for all students entering a single or joint honours degree with English Literature that means there should be no expenditure required on texts.|
Provisional Secondary Bibliography
This is a list of general texts. Detailed reading lists will be supplied for individual seminars.
Abrams, M.H. The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1953.
Ayers, David. Literary Theory: A Reintroduction. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008.
Baldick, Chris. Criticism and Literary Theory: 1890 to the Present. Harlow: Longman, 1996.
Bowie, Andrew. From Romanticism to Critical Theory: The Philosophy of German Literary Theory. London: Routledge, 1997.
Castle, Gregory. The Blackwell Guide to Critical Theory. Oxford: Blackwell, 2007.
Culler, Jonathan. Framing the Sign: Criticism and Its Institutions. Oxford: Blackwell, 1988.
Culler, Jonathan, Literary Criticism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.
Day, Gary. Literary Criticism: A New History. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2008.
Eagleton, Terry. Literary Theory: An Introduction (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996).
Graff, Gerald. Professing Literature: An Institutional History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.
Groden, Michael & Kreiswirth, Martin. The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994.
Habib, M. A. R. A History of Literary Criticism from Plato to the Present. London: Wiley-Blackwell, 2005.
Habib, M. A. R. Literary Criticism from Plato to the Present: An Introduction London: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.
Hartmann, Geoffrey. Criticism in the Wilderness: The Study of Literature Today. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1980.
Iser, Wolfgang. How to Do Theory, Oxford: Blackwell, 2006.
Lentricchia, Frank. After the New Criticism. London: Athlone, 1980.
Lentricchia, Frank & McLauglin, Thomas eds., Critical Terms for Literary Study (2nd edn.)
Parrinder, Patrick. Authors and Authority: English and American Criticism, 1750-1990. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1991.
Rapaport, Herman. The Literary Theory Toolkit: A Compendium of Concepts and Methods. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.
Waugh, Patricia, ed. Literary Theory and Criticism: An Oxford Guide. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.
Wellek, René & Warren, Austin. Theory of Literature. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1949.
|Course organiser||Dr Alex Thomson
Tel: (0131 6)50 3058
|Course secretary||Ms June Haigh
Tel: (0131 6)50 3620