Welcome to LIT101, Foundations in Literary Studies! In this course, you can expect to study the three primary genres, or types, of literature: poetry, drama, and fiction. Since this is an introductory-level course, our focus will be quite broad. That is, our readings will span continents and centuries, from antiquity to the present day, and from Ancient Greece to Victorian England, French Indochina, and the contemporary U.S. As we move through these works of literature, we will also study how to read intertextually and comparatively, sometimes by pairing earlier works with later adaptations in another medium, such as from a short story to a film, and sometimes by making our own discoveries, becoming alive to the ways that poems and prose draw upon—and break from—longstanding literary traditions. Throughout the course, we will read to understand texts as cultural artifacts specific to the time and place of their composition, as well as our own. We will also read for aesthetic appreciation—the delight of enjoyment, the thrill of a clever or artful turn of phrase. Lastly, we will read with the understanding that all these ways of reading are mutually inclusive.

Some major themes and areas of inquiry we’ll explore include:

• Style – What is style and which is more important, what we say, or how we say it? Is it possible to distinguish one from the other? Or is meaning wrapped up in style? We will investigate the ways in which a literary text’s content (what a text says) and its form (how the text says it) combine to make meaning.
• Intertextuality – To what extent is a literary text a thing made of its own historical moment, and to what extent is it a thing made of other literary that precede it? We’ll study the ways that texts—and genres—converse with one
another through the ages and different medium by recycling, refuting, and
building upon one another’s styles, voices, ideological stances, and politics.
• Civic Responsibility – Many of the works we’ll read ask big questions
about one’s duties to society, and the duties of society to individuals.
But what are these duties? Do they remain the same through the ages
or do they change? If so, how can we recognize and evaluate the values
of the individual or society across different ages, and for both their time and our own? And what happens when these duties and values between individuals and societies conflict? Through our readings, we will ask these questions, and more.
• Individualism and identity – What are individualism and identity and how do the characters we read about define these terms in different ways? Are individuals self-determined, or are identity and expression restricted by socio-cultural factors like one’s social relationships, culture, politics, religion, and other identity markers like race, gender, and sex? How do societal views on these issues shift over time?
• Coming-of-age – Many of our texts concern speakers and characters at the cusp of late youth and adulthood. These characters grapple with problems of dependence and self-assertion, power and sexuality, social understanding, self-knowledge, and self-expression. How does each text treat these issues in its own culturally specific ways? How does that relate to society today?

offering time

Fall 22


Isadora Wagner(V)



Course code


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