This course will introduce you to the discipline of literary studies. It is designed to help you gain proficiency in techniques of literary analysis, scholarly writing, and research. The course will also give you a knowledge of the major schools of contemporary literary theory. We will consider some of the key questions in the field, such as: Why do people read literature? How do we produce interpretations and meaning? What is the relationship between literature and society? How have authors used literature as a way both to understand and to shape the world around them?
We will read several literary texts and explore the kinds of critical approaches we can use to unpack their significance and range of meanings. We will also test our theoretical approaches using popular culture forms such as film. Readings will include a variety of literary criticism as well as literary works by such authors as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Harriet Jacobs, Herman Melville, and Kate Chopin. Course requirements include lively participation in class discussions, several short papers, a midterm, and a final.