This experimental course will explore intensively some of the key questions and problems that arise when we study English literature: What should I look for as I read? Is this text I am reading the "right" or "best" one? Should I be reading literary criticism about this story or poem, and if so, what should I do with it? Where do I find information about the historical context of this book, and should that historical context matter in my reading, anyway? We will reach for answers to these sorts of questions through hands-on exercises and class discussion in a seminar format, focused on problems posed by texts from different genres and time periods: possible texts may include T.S. Eliot's The Wasteland, Shakespeare's King Lear, Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, and Oscar Wilde's prose. Topics to be covered may include: literary and rhetorical terminology; meter, rhyme, and poetic form; the uses of old editions and manuscripts; issues in textual criticism; issues in biographical criticism; the roles of literary criticism and theory; effective use of the library; hypertext and electronic data bases. This seminar is designed in particular for advanced students seeking to strengthen and expand their critical skills. Writing assignments: several short writing assignments based on the research exercises and a 10-15 page research paper.