English 40-2 - Winter, 2020

Introductory Topics in Literature

    Topic: 'That's so Meta': Reading and Writing About Reading and Writing

Class Information

Instructor: Wallis, Christopher
CRN: 76937
Time: TR 1:40-3:00
Location: 1128 Hart


    In the field of psychology, the term "metacognition" points to the "[a]wareness and understanding of one's own thought processes" (OED). In literature, metacognition refers to a device whereby the process of a text's creation is laid bare or made apparent, often leading those experiencing the text to achieve a greater awareness of their own positions as readers and interpreters. Though prevalent across genres, time periods, and geographic locations, literary metacognition can take many forms and the reasons for its use are just as multifaceted. In our examination of this motif in poetry, fiction, and dramatic works (medieval to contemporary), we will explore the many reasons why texts engage in literary metacognition, whether it's to make the creative process an object of analysis; to test conventional boundaries (social, identity, genre); to draw attention to commonplace thinking and the spread of [mis]information; to comment on contemporary issues or concerns; or to highlight an affinity between the readers/interpreters of a text and the readers/interpreters within a text.


    Short Paper (3-4 pages)
    Long Paper (6-8 pages)
    Final Exam


    The Wife of Bath?s Prologue and Tale (ISBN: 978-0312111281), Geoffrey Chaucer
    The Taming of the Shrew (ISBN: 9780743477574), William Shakespeare
    Benito Cereno (ISBN: 9780486264738), Herman Melville
    The Importance of Being Earnest (ISBN: 9780486264783), Oscar Wilde
    The Passion (ISBN: 9780802135223), Jeanette Winterson
    Course Reader