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COURSE NAME: "Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theories"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2020

INSTRUCTOR: Alessandra Grego
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 8:20-9:40 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 NumberCommentsFormatLocal BookstoreOnline Purchase
The Routledge Companion to Critical and Cultural Theory, second editionSimon Malpas and Paul WakeRoutledge 2013ISBN-13: 978-0415668309     

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
The Routledge Critical and Cultural Theory ReaderNeil Badmington and Julia ThomasRoutledge, 20089780415433099  
2 papers1500 words papers in which you demonstrate your ability to analyse a text from a given theoretical perspective50%
Final exam 20
Class contributionParticipation in weekly forum discussions, study questions and other activities30%

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

Marxist theory
Marx, "Preface (to a Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy)", 1859.  
Week 5

 Variations in Marxist Criticism, Gramsci, Althusser, Benjamin Benjamin, Gramsci, Althusser  
Week 6

 Psychoanalytic Theory
Bruno Bettleheim, "The Uses of Enchantment"    1st Home Paper
Week 7

Feminism first waves: Wollestonecraft, Woolf  
Woolf, "A Room of One's Own", Simone de Beauvoir, Second Sex, "Introduction."
Week 8
Feminism later evolutions
Week 9
Queer and Gender Studies: Foucault, Butler
 Butler, "Imitation and Gender Insubordination." (1991). Foucault, from The History of Sexuality
Week 10

New Historicism and Cultural Studies: Foucault, Greenblatt, Baudrillard  Foucault: "Panopticism."
 2nd Home Paper
Week 11

 Colonial and Postcolonial studies: Said, Bhaba, Fanon
  Homi K. Bhaba,  Signs taken for Wonders
Week 12

Race and Ethnicity studies
Tony Morrison, Playing in the Dark   
         Final exam