English 110B - Winter, 2024

Introduction to Modern Literary & Critical Theory

Class Information

Instructor: Solomon, Jeff
Time: TR 9:00-10:20am
Location: Olson 146
GE Areas: Writing Experience


Modern literary theories provide us with culturally relevant tools we can employ to appreciate art and literature in full, allowing us access to groundbreaking developments in science and philosophy that can shed light upon the world and the human condition. This course will introduce students to the key trends in literary theory from the late-19th century to the present, addressing the major theoretical traditions that have shaped our reception of literary and artistic texts in the modern period ? e.g. Marxism, Freudian psychoanalysis, Frankfurt school criticism, structuralism/poststructuralism, critical race theory, feminist and queer theory, cultural studies and postcolonial theory, and ecocriticism. And while we will read excerpts of primary texts from across the wide range of critical traditions outlined here, our class will maintain a primary focus upon practical applications, applying the examples of theory we explore to specific literary texts as we go, exploring the variety of ways that theory can enrich our interpretation of literature in concrete ways. By the end of the course, students can expect to gain a useful understanding of how literature works (or doesn?t) within the world, and how texts accrue meaning within a multitude of contexts.


Reading Responses - 25%
In-Class Activities - 10%
Two Short Essays - 30%
Midterm Exam - 15%
Final Exam - 20%


The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, Jeffrey J Williams et al.
Darkest Desire : The Wolf's Own Tale, Anthony Schmitz
Hangman : A Novel, Maya Binyam