Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory

We 2:30PM - 4:55PM / 1325 Cathedral of Learning / CRN 11631

What is an author? What is a text? What is a sign? What is reading? What is interpretation? What is power? What is gender? What is race? What is a nation? And what does all this have to do with literary and cultural texts anyway? In this course for beginning graduate students in the modern languages, we will survey major movements and concepts in literary and cultural theory of the 20th/21st centuries. These theories have provided us important ways to think about how to read and interpret literature, film, and other cultural artifacts, and, as such, are an important aspect of graduate studies in the Humanities. Seemingly basic questions such as "what is an author?" or "what is literature?" are in fact hugely complicated questions that demand that we think about them if we are to think in sophisticated terms about literature and culture. This course is meant to provide students with a general background in literary and cultural theory. After a one-week introduction to the concept of theory, we will read about key movements (Eagleton) at the same time as we conduct careful close readings of key theoretical texts (including Bakhtin, Foucault, Derrida, Lacan, Butler, Sedgwick, Bhabha, and others). Assignments will focus on regular responses to the readings and on sustained contributions to class discussion as we work as a team to process these sometimes difficult texts. The course will be taught in English, and all readings will be available in English (though those able to read the texts in the original are encouraged to do so).

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Neil Doshi

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Category A: Text and Theory

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