Form, Figure, Metaphor
This course will explore the tensions and overlaps between three concepts in literary studies: form, figure, and metaphor. Through readings of works in literary theory, literature, and literary criticism, we will ask what it means to pay attention to the form of a literary text, whether at the micro scale of its literary figures or the macro scale of its overarching structure. We will historicize the shifting relations between our three key terms by exploring their role in ancient rhetoric, Victorian aesthetic theory, Russian formalism, the New Criticism, and deconstruction, among other literary-critical schools. Special attention will be paid to the notion of metaphor as it operates across genres and disciplines. While our focus will be on modern European and American literary theory, students will come away with interpretive tools beneficial to the study of literature of any period or genre.