Literary Theory

This subject examines the ways in which we read. It introduces some of the different strategies of reading, comprehending and engaging with literary texts developed in the twentieth century, paying especial attention to poststructuralist theories and their legacy. The course is organized around specific theoretical paradigms. In general, we will: (1) work through the selected reading in order to see how it determines or defines the task of literary interpretation; (2) locate the limits of each particular approach; and (3) trace the emergence of subsequent theoretical paradigms as responses to the achievements and limitations of 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. For the most part, each week will pair a text or film with a particular interpretative approach, using the former to explore the latter. Rather than attempting a definitive or full analysis of the literary or filmic work, we will exploit it (unashamedly – and indeed sometimes reductively) to understand better the theoretical reading it accompanies.