How should we approach a literary text? Should we seek only the author’s intended meaning, or should
we pay attention to potentially unintended meanings, too? Should we focus on historical context? Should
we focus on subtexts of culture and politics? Or should we focus on genre and form? This course will
examine the ways that major movements in literary criticism have responded to such questions. We will
explore formalist as well as cultural and political approaches to literature, will practice different ways of
reading and interpreting texts, and will investigate the broader social and intellectual implications of
methods of literary analysis. We will pay special attention to modes of criticism drawing on structuralism
and post-structuralism, feminist theory, queer theory, new historicism, and Marxist, psychoanalytic, and
postcolonial critique. In all, the course will serve as a space in which students can learn about, and learn
how to apply, literary theory to their understanding of texts, culture, and society

offering time

Fall 22


Yen Vu


Course code


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