This course will focus on the history of critical texts which consider the social implications of literature and language. Among the points of view represented in the authors we read will be blends of Marxism, feminism, gender studies, cultural studies, psychological and psychoanalytic approaches, reader-response theory, post-colonial and race theory, film theory, ecocriticism, and ethics and literature. Many of our selections will be from the Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, which I will supplement with several handouts (on ecocriticism, ethics and other topics).

Students will be asked to post brief responses to the course texts on our ICON discussion board, to bring in questions and "applications" for class discussion, and to write two critical essays evaluating course material and related readings.


Instructor: Florence Boos, 319 EPB,

office phone: 335--0434 (answering machine); office hours: almost anytime after class and Tuesdays 4-5, Wednesdays 4:30-5:30, and Thursdays 4-5 except when a departmental meeting is scheduled

Text: The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, ed. Vincent Leitch, 2001, with supplementary handouts

Course requirements:

1. reading of all texts for class discussion; about half of tshe sessions will be student led, and thus each student will help lead discussion three or four times during the semester.

2. postings to Icon: you are asked to post 6 roughly two page single-spaced commentaries on our readings during the term. Please number and title your postings, e. g., posting no. 1, "Freud's Views on Repression." At least three of your postings should respond in some way to that of another graduate student.

3. course essay: students are asked to write an essay of 12+ pages which evaluates a strand of critical thought, centering on a book by one of the authors we have read or another work relevant to issues considered during the course. For example, you might discuss an issue important to contemporary Marxism, such as issues of interpellation by the media, setting Frederic Jameson's Post-Modernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism in the context of other Marxist-influenced theorists we have read. If you hand in a rough draft a week before the essay is due December 18th, I'll give preliminary suggestions and comments. During finals week, in lieu of an official exam, we will have at least one class session in which students describe their respective projects.