In each of these 6-page (or more) formal critical essays, you will be playing the role of a literary critic responding to the work of another literary critic. Your job is to pick a critical or theoretical text covered in either weeks 1-7 (for Essay 1)
1. Identify, explain, and defend a point of contention or difference (major or minor, as long as it’s interesting and productive for you and your reader) you have with any aspect of that critical or theoretical text’s argument, providing examples from inside and outside your chosen text to prove your point;
2. Qualify any aspect of that critical or theoretical text’s argument by taking it in a new direction via applying it creatively, thoughtfully, and critically to a written, cinematic, or cultural text of your choosing.
In each paragraph, be sure to quote directly and selectively from the text you’re critiquing, and to analyze those passages closely and creatively, with attention to detail and context. Avoid dwelling on points we’ve already covered in class, unless it’s a point that you made in class yourself. You may freely refer to any point already covered in class if you’re using it as a springboard to saying something new. Avoiding the obvious: With every point you make, be sure to move beyond “arguing” a point that, though true, should be obvious to any other intelligent reader in the class. Good essays take the risk of introducing a counterintuitive or surprising argument that is somehow “new”; otherwise, it’s not worth stating at all.
Formatting: papers must be 6 pages or more, 1.5- or double-spaced, in a reasonable font (11 or 12-point Times New Roman, for instance), and with 1 inch margins all around, submitted electronically via the course CANVAS page.
Literary Theory: an Anthology (Wiley-Blackwell; 3rd edition, 2017).
Week 3, Formalism:
M, 1/31: Brooks, “The Formalist Critics,” pp. 15-21; Wimsatt and Beardsley, “The Intentional Fallacy,” pp. 29-41
Week 4, Structuralism:
M, 2/7: Culler, “The Linguistic Foundation,” pp. 134-137; Saussure, “Course in General Linguistics,” pp. 137-177
Week 5, Structuralism:
M , 2/14: Saussure, “Course in General Linguistics,” pp. 137-177 (continued); Bakhtin, “Discourse in the Novel,” pp. 205-216; Barthes, “The Death of the Author,” pp. 518-521
Week 6, Deconstruction (Early Poststructuralism):
M, 2/21: Derrida, “Difference,” pp. 474-495; Derrida, “That Dangerous Supplement,” pp. 496-517