English 40-1 - Fall, 2019

Introductory Topics in Literature

    Topic: Ways of Reading: Critical Methods for Literary Interpretation

Class Information

Instructor: Wallis, Christopher
CRN: 41952
Time: MWF 10:00-10:50
Location: 108 Hoagland


    This course aims to augment students' analytical toolkits by exposing them to methods for literary interpretation. Underscoring the protocols of textual analysis, the course emphasizes the questions we ask when marshaling these critical perspectives to enhance and broaden our interpretive experiences. Over the quarter, we will conduct a focused examination of three literary works (a poem, a short novel, and a play) and negotiate five approaches for reading literature: reader-response techniques, formal analyses, psychoanalytic criticism, historical and material analyses, and gender-, race-, and sexuality-based criticism. While considering how these interpretive practices can lead us down multivalent, unforeseen, and sometimes conflicting paths, we will also entertain opportunities to merge techniques. Students will be tasked not only with identifying the five critical approaches and working through their respective questions, but also with developing ways to place these methods into conversation with one another.


    Attendance and participation
    Three short exercises
    Long paper
    Final exam


    Texts and Contexts: Writing About Literature with Critical Theory, 6th edition (Pearson, 2010; ISBN: 9780205716746), Steven Lynn
    The Turn of the Screw (Dover, 1991; ISBN: 9780486266848), Henry James
    The Tempest (Dover, 1999; ISBN: 9780486406589), William Shakespeare
    Course Pack