This course is designed to allow students who who wish to study Literature at an advanced level (as majors in English, for instance) to develop their expertise in understanding cultural institutions and practices and indeed in reading the texts often central to these practices. We will do so by examining closely different critical methods and vocabularies that have been crucial to the development of such academic study. We will thus concern ourselves with the historical origins of literary and cultural studies, as well as with some of the literary-historical and critical debates that are central to the specialized study of literature. At the end of this course, students should be able to identify and understand some of the cultural and textual assumptions that define different critical approaches to the study of cultural phenomena, including those of New Criticism, Feminism, Cultural Materialism, New Historicism, Minority Discourse Studies, Colonial and Post-colonial Studies, and Cultural Studies. Students should also be able to identify their own critical interests, and thus to produce criticism that is self-conscious about its own assumptions and vocabulary.
The readings will concentrate largely on critical materials (which are collected in a course reader).