Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Introduction to Literary Theory: Ideology

ENGL 094.401
crosslisted as: COML 094.401
instructor(s):
W 2-5:00
fulfills requirements:
Sector 1: Theory and Poetics of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major

This class will provide an introduction to literary theory by focusing on ideology. We will explore how ideology becomes a name for investigating various social, political, and economic processes underwriting cultural production. Throughout the semester we will read texts that help to establish a genealogy of ideology. At the same time we will examine a number of critical theories—including (post)structuralism, deconstruction, Marxism, psychoanalysis, feminism, critical race theory, postcolonial studies, and environmental studies—that offer frameworks for analyzing the complex relationships among language, representation, and power in literature, popular culture, and public discourse. Finally, we will place these theories in conversation with a number of contemporary political debates, including feminist challenges to pornography, legal disputes over hate speech, social arguments about affirmative action, state rhetoric concerning the “war on terror,” and scientific deliberations on climate change.