English 199a. How to Do Literary Theory

Instructor: Andrew Warren
Terms: Spring Term

Tuesdays & Thursdays, 10-11:30 am | Location: TBA

This is a course in the lively history and practice of literary theory. Since literature came into the world people have had theories about it: what it is, what it can & shouldn’t do, why it exists, how it works, what makes a piece of writing good or mediocre or sublime—and who gets to say so.  We will read a wide range of answers to these questions written by very different people in very different places and times, from Ancient Greece to 1960’s Paris, from post-colonial Kenya to present-day New York and Mumbai. To get a feel for how these different literary theories work in practice each student will also choose a literary text on which to perform different styles of readings. By the end of the course you will be an expert in that text and in a dozen different ways of reading and asking questions about it.

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