E 393M • Intro to Critical Theory
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
The purpose of this course is to place the issue of "theory" in the context of your graduate education. Many undergraduate programs offer surveys of traditional and contemporary approaches to the analysis of literature/culture; every graduate course you take will be informed by a distinctive theoretical bias; some graduate courses take a specific theoretical orientation as their primary subject matter. This course provides the basics for identifying the "theory" content of these courses, but is decidedly more, not less, "theoretical" in its character. This is a course about how to read "theory" in reference to a disciplinary discourse whose contemporary and former theoretics are discontinuous, but whose explanatory practices (methods) demand the invention of continuities between the traditions, as well as the presentations of a coherent professional stance. By learning how to recognize and use the strategies of "theorizing" heuristically, graduate students hopefully will avoid the mere citation of undigested theory or the reductive use of explanatory models in the conduct of contemporary inquiries.
(1) Lentricchia and McLaughlin, Critical Terms for Literary Study, Second Edition
(2) Packet of Readings: Wellek, Crane, Abrams, Frye, Saussure, deMan, Derrida, Foucault, Jameson, Althusser, Said, Spivak, Greenblatt, Felski, Ricoeur