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COURSE NAME: "Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theories"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2019

INSTRUCTOR: Alessandra Grego
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 8:30-9:45 AM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: EN 110 with a grade of C or above
OFFICE HOURS: by appointment

Designed as an introduction to the theoretical approaches to literature, the course will stimulate students to think and write critically through the study of the principal topics of literary theory. The course will adopt both a historical approach, covering each theory in the chronological order of its appearance on the scene, and a critical approach - putting the theories to the test by applying them to a literary text. The course will also help students to move on to an advanced study of literature by introducing them to the research methods and tools for the identification, retrieval, and documentation of secondary sources.This is a reading and writing intensive course. Students in 200-level literature classes are required to produce 4-5,000 words of critical writing.
Students will learn to identify and employ the principal theories of literature and develop their own critical skills, approaching cultural texts in an theoretically informed way,  using research methods and writing critical papers of academic quality. Students will also learn to take into due consideration the interactions between literature, history, politics, cultures and theory. Students will test their understanding of the various theories by performing critical readings of a single text from different theoretical perspectives.

This class will demonstrate the extent to which a single text can appear radically different depending on the theoretical approach through which it is read. Studying the key elements and terminology of each literary and cultural theory, students will exercise their critical skills as they experiment how to effectively use theory to analyze cultural texts.
On completing this course students will be able
 - to approach a text from a theoretic point of view
 - to focus on form rather than content
 - to research effectively and write critically

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
The Routledge Companion to Literary and Cultural TheoryPaul WakeRoutledge978-0415668309  
The Routledge Critical and Cultural Theory ReaderNeil BadmingtonRoutledge, 2008 978-0415433099  

2 papers analytical papers in which you demonstrate your ability to perform a theoretical reading of a text45%
Final exam 20
Class contributionComing to class having read and considered the assignment, prepared to generate and contribute to class discussion. Note that silent attendance does not qualify as class participaion. 10%
Study questionsShort quizzes to test your understanding of the various theoretical approaches25%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

Attendance is mandatory.  If you miss more than 4 classes it will impact your grade (1/4 of a grade per absence, e.g. from A to A-)  and if you miss 7 or more you will fail the class. Silent attendance does not count as class participation.
Students are required to follow some basic class rules: to arrive punctually, to stay in class for the whole period of the lesson, to refrain from using their mobile phones and laptops.
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.



Session Session Focus Reading Assignment Other Assignment Assignment and Exam Dates
Week 1
Introduction to the course. Preliminary questions: New Criticism: reading, critical reading, theory.

Week 2
Structuralism; Saussure and Semiotics 

Week 3

 Propp, Jakobsen, Barthes
Structuralist reading of Little Red Riding Hood

Week 4

Psychoanalysis, Freud
 Bruno Bettleheim, "The Uses of Enchantment"  
Week 5

Psychoanalysis, Lacan
Week 6

Marx, Wage, Labour and Capital
 In class excercise: Psychoanalytic Terminology
Week 7

Variations in Marxist Criticism, Gramsci, Althusser, Benjamin
 Gramsci, Hegemony, Zizek, The Sublime Object of Ideology
  1st Home Paper
Week 8
Feminism: Wollestonecraft, Woolf 

 Simone de Beauvoir, Second Sex, "Introduction."  In class excercise: Marxist terminology
Week 9
Feminism: Cixous, Irigaray, Friedan

 Luce Irigaray, The Power of Discourse in the Subordination of the Feminine
Week 10

Queer and Gender Studies: Foucault, Butler  Foucault, from The History of Sexuality
 2nd Home Paper
Inclass exercise: Feminist Terminology
Week 11

 New Historicism and Cultural Studies: Foucault, Greenblatt, Baudrillard

Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Technical Reproduction
Fiske, Television Culture
Week 12

Colonial and Postcolonial studies: Said, Bhaba, Fanon

Homi K. Bhaba,  Signs taken for Wonders
 3rd Home Paper
Week 13

Race and Ethnicity studies

Tony Morrison, Playing in the Dark
 IN class excercise Post-colonial terminology
Week 14