Spring 2024

Literary Theory

Prereq: none
Units: 3-0-9 HASS-H

This subject examines the ways we read. It introduces important strategies for engaging with literary texts developed in the twentieth century, paying special attention to French poststructuralist theorists — such as Derrida, Lacan, and Foucault — and their legacy. The course is organised around specific theoretical paradigms. In general, we will: (1) work through the selected readings in order to see how they construe what literary interpretation is; (2) locate the limits of each particular approach; and (3) trace the emergence of subsequent theoretical paradigms as responses to what came before. The literary texts and films accompanying the theoretical material will serve as concrete cases that allow us to see theory in action. Rather than attempting a definitive or full analysis of a literary or filmic work, we will exploit it (unashamedly — and indeed sometimes reductively) to understand better the theoretical text or paradigm it accompanies.