The course explores how the unique components of literary texts and their complex interrelation with the literary/critical tradition, the arts, and social, political and historical developments shape literary theories. We will examine briefly the shifting perspectives from Aristotelian poetics to semiotics and from intellectual history to cultural studies and then focus on the main currents in twentieth-century criticism. Lectures center on elements that provided the basis for the critical discourse: the structure of texts (narrative techniques, figure conceptions, thematic constellations), issues in analyzing: 1) mimesis, semblance, illusion, 2) perception, 3) space and time, 4) authenticity, truth, and probability, and 5) socioeconomic and political commitment.
Requirements: Reading of literary texts illustrating fable, play, poem, narrative. Representative selections from criticism. One collaborative (3 to 4 students) report on a major critic or school of criticism; one individual or collaborative paper contrasting a diverse approach to a text. One take home examination.