E615 – Reading Literature: Recent Theories
Description: This course is an introduction to contemporary literary and critical theory. Topics include recent and emerging varieties of feminism and gender theory, of Marxism and cultural materialism, of psychoanalysis, of deconstruction, of postcolonialism, and of new historicism and cultural studies. Such topics address, for example, literature’s central function in shaping social identities of writers and readers.
E-615 prepares students to understand the study of literature (and cultural works generally) as a part of the larger study of language and culture from the perspectives of materialisms and antifoundationalisms (“materialist” and “antifoundationalist” approaches to language suggest that knowledges of whatever sort—of the arts, ethics, human nature, and any number of things—result from a particular history whose claims to universality are always open to critical scrutiny). The course theorizes language from within a largely European philosophical tradition that breaks in degree with approaches to language that cohere strictly with the human or social sciences. E-615 is thus important as a critical background to contemporary literary and cultural theory that understands the earlier work of figures such as Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Saussure, de Beauvoir, Fanon and others as the working foreground for critical inquiry today.