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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : English Literature

Postgraduate Course: Postcritique: From Theory to Practice (ENLI11255)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryCulminating, most notably, in Rita Felski's The Limits of Critique (2015), the critique-based model of much of academic discourse in the humanities has come under ever-increasing scrutiny, instigating a proliferation of cases for a 'postcritical' model of textual engagement. But what does a work of postcritique actually look like? This course examines the theories of postcritique and their implications alongside the many possible modes of postcritical response across literature, film, music, art, and theatre, in an effort to answer that question. By the end of the course, students will be asked to formulate and enact their own postcritical composition in response to a text of their choosing and to situate this piece within or beyond the theoretical frameworks explored in seminars.
Course description The course begins with an exploration of the various cases for postcritique, centering on discussion of Rita Felski's The Limits of Critique (2015) but contextualised with selections of precursory works by sociologist Bruno Latour, gender and queer theorist Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and Reader Response theorist Louise Rosenblatt, among others. Felski's discussion of critique's undergirding metaphors -- metaphors of 'digging in', 'standing back', 'destabilising', and 'deconstructing' -- will be bolstered by an examination of George Lakoff and Mark Johnson's theories of conceptual metaphor and embodied cognition. This broad theoretical framework will be enriched by discussions of contemporary works of critique that students will collect and bring into class; some of these critique-based essays may even be the students' own previous work from other classes. With these theories in mind, the second half of the course turns toward the practice of 'postcritique'. Alongside a discussion of existing forms of postcritical response -- works such as Jack Spicer's pseudo-translation text, After Lorca (1957), and various cross-media experimentations such as film/theatre/dance adaptations of texts, filmpoems, musical interpretations of paintings, and others -- students will present to the class a proposal for their own postcritical response (primary texts are of students' own choosing but must be approved in advance by the course organiser). These proposals will have the opportunity to be collaboratively 'workshopped' by the class in an effort to refine and strengthen the theoretical underpinnings as well as help sketch out a plan for the production of the piece. Assessment takes the form of a two-part, final project: a postcritical, responsive composition along with a 2,500-word rationale situating their composition in relation to contemporary theories of postcritique.

WEEK 1: Introduction: What is Academic Reading For?
WEEK 2: Felski and Characterising the Critical Framework
WEEK 3: Sedgwick, Rosenblatt, Latour: Alternative Frameworks for Reading
WEEK 4: Conceptual Metaphor and Embodied Cognition
WEEK 5: Responding With: Lucie Brock-Broido's the 'Widderuf'
WEEK 6: Jack Spicer's After Lorca as a Proto-Postcritical Composition
WEEK 7: 'Cross-mediality': Tarkovsky, Rachmaninoff, Kandinsky
WEEK 8: Presentations and Workshops
WEEK 9: Presentations and Workshops
WEEK 10: Critique and Postcritique in Academia and Beyond?
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Compose an original response that engages with the theories and practices of postcritique.
  2. Evaluate their own creative composition and its relation to a theoretical framework.
  3. Appraise the conceptual and discursive structures of texts literary theory.
  4. Assess both critique- and postcritique-based modes of responsive writing.
  5. Present orally a proposal for postcritical textual engagement.
Reading List
Anker, Elizabeth S. and Rita Felski. [excerpts from] Introduction to Critique and Postcritique. London: Duke University Press, 2017.
Brock-Broido, Lucie. The Master Letters. London: Penguin, 1995.
---- 'In Search of the Widerruf'. Seminar given at Columbia University in the City of New York, New York, NY, November, 2013.
Felski, Rita. The Limits of Critique. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015.
Lakoff, George, and Mark Johnson. [excerpts from] Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought. New York: Basic Books, 1999.
Latour, Bruno. 'Why Has Critique Run Out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern'. Critical Inquiry 30 (2004): 225-248. doi: 10.1086/421123.
----. 'An Attempt at a "Compositionist Manifesto"'. New Literary History 41, no. 3 (2010): 471-490. URL:
Rosenblatt, Louise M. [excerpts from] The Reader, The Text, The Poem: The Transactional Theory of the Literary Work. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1978.
Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. 'Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading, or, You're So Paranoid, You Probably Think This Essay Is about You'. In Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, and Performativity, edited by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Michèle Barale, Johathan Goldberg, and Michael Moon, 123-151. Durham: Durham University Press, 2003.
Smith, Alexandra. 'Andrei Tarkovsky as Reader of Arsenii Tarkovsky's Poetry in the Film Mirror.' Russian Studies in Literature, 40, no. 3 (2004): 46-63. DOI: 10.1080/10611975.2004.11062142.
Spicer, Jack. After Lorca. In My Vocabulary Did This to Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer, edited by Peter Gizzi and Kevin Killian, 105-155. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2008.
Tarkovsky, Andrei, dir. Mirror. 1975, Moscow, Mosfilm Studios.
Vergo, Peter. 'Kandinsky and Music'. Experiment, 9, no. 1 (2003): 49¿56. DOI:

Additional Reading

Anderson, John R. Cognitive Psychology and Its Implications, 8th Edition. New York: Worth Publishers, 2015.
Best, Stephen, and Sharon Marcus. 'Surface Reading: An Introduction'. Representations 108, no. 1 (2009): 1-21. doi: 10.1525/rep.2009.108.1.1.
Dewey, John. Art as Experience. New York: Perigee, 1980.
Eagleton, Terry. [excerpts from] Marxism and Literary Criticism. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976.
Eco, Umberto. The Role of the Reader. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1979.
Eliot, T. S. To Criticize the Critic. Faber and Faber: London, 1965.
----. The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism: Studies in the Relation of Criticism to Poetry in England. Harvard, MA: Harvard University Press, 1986.
----. The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism. London: Faber and Faber, 1997.
Felski, Rita. Uses of Literature. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2008.
----. 'Introduction'. New Literary History 47, nos. 2/3 (2016): 215-229. doi:
----. Literature After Feminism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.
Forrest-Thomson, Veronica. Poetic Artifice: A Theory of Twentieth-Century Poetry. Edited by Gareth Farmer. Bristol: Shearsman Books, 2016.
Gadamer, Hans-Georg. Truth and Method. Translated by Joel Weinsheimer and Donald G. Marshal. London: Bloomsbury, 2013.
Gilbert, Alan. 're:Reading the Active Reader Theory'. In Another Future: Poetry and Art in a Postmodern Twilight, 107-113. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2006.
Gilbert, Sandra M., and Susan Gubar. The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-century Literacy Imagination. Yale: Yale University Press, 2000.
Hawkey, Christian. Ventrakl. Berkeley, CA: Ugly Duckling Press, 2013.
Hejinian, Lynn. 'The Rejection of Closure'. In The Language of Inquiry, 40-58. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.
Johnson, Mark. The Body in the Mind. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1987.
----. The Meaning of the Body: Aesthetics of Human Understanding. Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2007.
----. '"The Stone That Was Cast Out Shall Become the Cornerstone": The Bodily Aesthetics of Human Meaning'. Journal of Visual Art Practice 6, no. 2 (2007): 89-103. doi: 10.1386/jvap.6.2.89_1.
Jones, Tom. Poetic Language. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012.
Lakoff, George. 'The Neural Theory of Metaphor'. In The Cambridge Handbook of Metaphor and Thought, edited by Raymond W. Gibbs, Jr., 17-38. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.
----. Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal about the Mind. Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 1987.
Lakoff, George, and Mark Johnson. Metaphors We Live By. Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 1980.
Lakoff, George, and Mark Turner. More than Cool Reason: A Field Guide to Poetic Metaphor. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.
Latour, Bruno. Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.
Lowell, Robert. Imitations. New York: Noonday Press, 1965.
Moretti, Franco. Distant Reading. London: Verso, 2013.
----. Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for Literary History. London: Verso, 2007.
Redwood, Thomas. Andrei Tarkovsky's Poetics of Cinema. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2010.
Richards, I. A. Practical Criticism: A Study of Literary Judgement. London: Myers Press, 2008.
----. Principles of Literary Criticism. London: Routledge, 2001.
Richards, I. A., and C. K. Ogden, The Meaning of Meaning. New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Co., 1923.
Rorty, Richard. 'The Contingency of Language'. in Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity, 3-22. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
Roth, Michael S. 'Beyond Critical Thinking'. Chronicle of Higher Education, 3 January, 2010.
Saussure, Ferdinand de. Course in General Linguistics. London: Bloomsbury Editions, 2013.
Searle, John. Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 1969.
Shapiro, Lawrence. Embodied Cognition. New York: Routledge, 2011.
Showalter, Elaine. 'Feminist Criticism in the Wilderness.' Critical Inquiry 8, no. 2 (1981). 179-206.
----. A Literature of Their Own: British Women Novelists from Brontë to Lessing. London: Virago, 2009.
Tarkovsky, Andrei. Sculpting in Time. Trans. Kitty Hunter-Blair. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1987.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Creative thinking, critical thinking, ethical awareness, cross-disciplinary communication, artistic composition, verbal communication.
Keywordspostcritique,creative practice,literary theory,adaptation,translation
Course organiserDr Patrick Errington
Course secretaryMiss Kara McCormack
Tel: (0131 6)50 3030
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