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New Reading Methods in Literary Studies

ENGL 790.301


Reading Methods in Literary Studies

Instructors: Heather Love and Sharon Marcus (Columbia)

Note: This course is being offered simultaneously at Columbia and will include Columbia PhD students. Half the course meetings will take place in NYC.

Recent debates about reading have questioned the core methodological commitments of literary studies. This course will serve as an introduction to these debates through an exploration of topics including the exhaustion of critique, post-hermeneutic criticism, and the relation between interpretation and description. Many of our readings will situate new methods such as surface reading, just reading, distant reading, and reparative reading in the longer history of the discipline, exploring the links between these methods and New Criticism, New Historicism, and Marxist and psychoanalytic criticism. The course will also introduce students to some of the alternatives to close reading and critical hermeneutics that have been practiced in the past few decades, from new sociologies of literature to world systems analysis to cognitive literary studies. In addition, the course is also designed as a hands-on workshop, allowing students to gain experience in some traditional methods (archival research, bibliographic scholarship, material text scholarship) as well as new digital methods (data mining, topic modeling, social network analysis). A number of outside speakers will visit the class to discuss methods and also to teach hands-on classes in archival and digital methods. 

Readings by Georg Lukacs, Roland Barthes, Mikhail Bakhtin, Pierre Bourdieu, Paul Ricoeur, Frederic Jameson, W. K. Wimsatt, Monroe Beardsley, I.A. Richards, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Friedrich Kittler, Clifford Geertz, Bruno Latour, Catherine Gallagher, Franco Moretti, D.A. Miller, Rita Felski, Katherine Hayles, Johanna Drucker, Alan Liu, Jane Bennett, Michael Warner, Saba Mahmood, Jane Gallop, Jed Esty, Colleen Lye, Rachel Buurma, Laura Heffernan, and others.

 "Enrollments for this course are limited; decisions about enrollments will be made during the first week of class. I had previously announced that there would be an introductory meeting on Tuesday, August 27th--that is no longer the case. If you are interested in taking the class, simply come to the first regularly scheduled class meeting on Wednesday, August 28 at 3 pm in Van Pelt Library (VP 626).  No Columbia students will attend this meeting; our first joint course meeting will be at Columbia on Wed. September 4 at 3 pm. Email me ( with questions."

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