Introduction to Literary Theory
Goals & Expectations
Required Texts on order at WU Bookstore:
Robert Dale Parker, How to Interpret Literature [HIL]
Additional texts available electronically &/or via ereserve includeOctavia Butler, "Amnesty"
Marilyn Chin, “We Are Americans Now, We Live in the Tundra”
Sandra Cisneros, “Mericans"
Gerald Vizenor, “Almost Browne”
Derek Walcott, "Blues"
requirements (suggested percentages):
class participation, blog participation, and blog evaluation: 40%
paper one: 20%
paper two: 20%
paper three 20%
For more information about assignments see below.
If you have a documented disability for which I can make accommodation, please speak with me individually.
(all reserve texts also available in hard copy at the
Hatfield Circulation desk)
my writing guidelines
site for dropping off papers
On Plagiarism and how to avoid it
Hatfield Library literature resources
Tentative Schedule of Readings and Assignments
M Jan 19 Introductions
W Jan 21 HIL, Chapters 1& 2 (Introduction & New Criticism)
F Jan 23 Walcott, "Blues"; Chin, "We Are Americans Now, We Live in the Tundra"; Vizenor, "Almost Brown"; Butler, "Amnesty"; Cisneros, "Mericans" (ereserve)
M Jan 26 Saussure, "Course in General Linguistics," LTA 59-71
W Jan 28 HIL Chapter 3: Structuralism
F Jan 30 Barthes, "The Death of the Author" (online)
M Feb 2 HIL Chapter 4: Deconstruction 77-89; Derrida, "Semiology and Grammatology" LTA 332-339
W Feb 4 HIL Chapter 4: Deconstruction 89-100; Johnson, "Writing" LTA 340-347
F Feb 6 Miller, “Heart of Darkness Revisited” (e-reserve)
M Feb 9 First Paper full draft due (about 3 pages, 4 copies)
W Feb 11 Freud, "Screen Memories" (distributed in class)
F Feb 13 HIL Chapter 5 Psychoanalysis 101-126; Freud, "The Interpretation of Dreams," LTA 397-414
M Feb 16 HIL Chapter 5 Psychoanalysis 126-135; Lacan, "The Mirror Stage," LTA 441-446
W Feb 18 Chodorow, "Pre-Oedipal Gender Configurations,"LTA 470-486; First paper due
F Feb 20 Adelman, "'Man and Wife Is One Flesh': Hamlet and the Confrontation with the Maternal Body" (e-reserve)
M Feb 23 HIL Chapter 6: Feminism 136-152; Gilbert and Gubar, "The Madwoman in the Attic," LTA 812-825
W Feb 25 HIL Chapter 6: Feminism 152-161; Mulvey, "Visual Pleasure & Narrative Cinema" (ereserve)
F Feb 27 Rubin, "The Traffic in Women," LTA 770-794
M Mar 2 HIL Chapter 7: Queer Studies; Rivkin & Ryan, "Contingencies of Gender" LTA 659-664
W Mar 4 Butler, "Performative Acts and Gender Constitution," LTA 900-911
F Mar 6 Rubin, "Sexual Transformations," LTA 889-891; Foucault, "The History of Sexuality," LTA 892-899
M Mar 9 Sedgwick, "Epistemology of the Closet," LTA 912-921
W Mar 11 Second Paper full draft due (3-5 pages, 4 copies)
F Mar 13 HIL Chapter 8: Marxism 187-197; Marx, "Wage Labor and Capital," LTA 659-664
M Mar 16 Marx, "Capital," LTA 665-672
W Mar 18 Gramsci, "Hegemony" Marx, "The German Ideology," LTA 653-658
F Mar 20 HIL Chapter 8: Marxism 197-217; Althusser, "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses"; Second paper due
Mar 23-27 Spring Break
M Mar 30 Bakhtin, "Discourse in the Novel" and "Rabelais and His World" LTA 674-692; Bristol, "'Funeral-Bak'd-Meats': Carnival and the Carnivalesque in Hamlet" (e-reserve)
W Apr 1 HIL Chapter 9: Historicism and Cultural Studies 218-231; Foucault, "Discipline and Punish" LTA 549-566
F Apr 3 HIL Chapter 9, 231-239; Thompson, "Witness Against the Beast" LTA 533-548
M Apr 6 HIL Chapter 10: Postcolonial and Race Studies, 240-262; Kincaid, "A Small Place" 1224-1229
W Apr 8 Spivak, "Three Women’s Texts and a Critique of Imperialism," LTA 838-853
F Apr 10 Said, "Jane Austen and Empire" LTA 1112-1125
M Apr 13 HIL Chapter 10 262-277; Haney López, "The Social Construction of Race" 964-974
W Apr 15 SSRD
F Apr 17 Anzaldua, "Borderlands/La Frontera" 1017-1030
M Apr 20 Morrison, "Playing in the Dark" 1005-1016; Gates, "The Blackness of Blackness" 987-1004
W Apr 22 Lowe, "Heterogeneity, Hybridity, Multiplicity" 1031-1050
F Apr 24 Parker, "Tradition, Innovation, and Aesthetics" 1051-1067
M Apr 27 Draft of final essay due (4 copies)
W Apr 29 HIL, Ch 11 Reader Response & Afterword
F May 1 blog self-evaluation due
M May 4 Last day of class Final essay due
Friday May 8 11 am Optional revisions of Essays 1 & 2 due
Evaluation of your participation includes the
Attendance: you must be both physically and mentally present in order to participate. Note that tardiness does not impress the teacher with your scholarly dedication and commitment to learning in this course. Please come to each class on time, fully prepared. If you miss a class, talk to at least two other students who were present that day, and get copies of their class notes. In addition, post to the class blog a summary of the main points of the assigned reading for the day of your absence. (For each absence after the first for which you fail to provide this summary within one week of the absence, your participation grade will be lowered by 1/3--e.g., from a B to a B-; on days when papers or drafts are due, the 'assigned reading' equivalent is three of your classmates' papers or drafts.)
Preparation: reading and writing assignments are due on the class day indicated on the syllabus. You should bring to class any assignments, the assigned text, and appropriate notetaking material (notebook, pen). You should be prepared to discuss the reading and share your responses. Read actively, mark your texts, and take notes. As we move through the semester, you will also want to think about connections between current and past readings and discussions.
Peer editing and other in-class assignments: Not all writing done in class will be collected, but all should be done in good faith and with attention. Similarly, you should give your classmates' writing respectful attention and provide rigorous and tactful responses.
Discussion: Try to contribute at least once to each general class discussion and at least once to each small-group discussion. Quality of response is more important than quantity, but you cannot offer thoughtful comments unless you speak up! Expect to be asked to support your observations with specific textual references. Ask questions. Be respectful of your classmates. Listen attentively. Avoid side conversations; if it's worth saying to your neighbor, it's worth sharing with the rest of the class. Don't interrupt others; if you wish to speak next, raise your hand. Avoid personal attacks; challenge the idea not the person.
Point your web browser to http://blog.willamette.edu
Login using your WU username & password
On the "My Weblogs" list you should see "Introduction to Literary Theory"
Click on one of the "Create new entry" buttons to do just that.
You need to select the "Publish" option for Post Status for your entry to appear on the formal blog site page.
To comment on someone else's entry, you have to be viewing the actual site, which you can get to via the "view site" links or this link: http://blog.willamette.edu/people/fmichel/202w/
You might want to compose your posts and comments in a word-processing program and paste them into the blog.
In each paper, you will need specifically to cite and work
with at least one of the relevant theoretical texts. Each
essay should have a clearly-stated thesis that takes
of both conceptual and stylistic aspects of the literary text and
to each other. The thesis should be supported through quotations from
the text and through analytic discussion of quoted words, phrases,
and sentences. More information on how to write an essay can also be
found in guides to academic writing available in the Writing Center
library. Please use
MLA format. You may also discuss your essay with Writing
consultants. The WU Writing Center is located in Matthews Hall, and
is open M-Th 10am-4pm and 7pm-9pm, F 10am-2pm, and Sun 4pm-9pm
(closed Saturday). Call x4822 or 370-6300 for an appointment. You are
also invited to consult with me. For an appointment, email
email@example.com, call x6389, or see the sign-up sheet on my
office door (Eaton 204), or drop by during office hours.
Essays will be graded as follows:
A An excellent essay typically includes an outstanding thesis, thoughtful consideration of concepts and perceptive analysis of texts. Detailed reading, cogent and graceful argument, vivid and sophisticated prose.
B A good essay typically includes a strong thesis and coherent argument, effective supporting attention to the texts, and generally fine and clear prose with only occasional lapses in grammar. The difference between an excellent essay and a good one lies less in what is wrong with the good essay than in what is right with the excellent one.
C A satisfactory essay typically includes a thesis that is too general or simplistic, and vague readings of the texts. Generally competent prose but marred by consistent grammatical or organizational errors.
D A below standard essay typically has an ill-defined or ill-supported main idea, together with serious flaws in grammar, logic, or argumentation.
F A failing essay is typically one marred by plagiarism. It may also be an essay that reveals no knowledge of the text and that is written in unidiomatic English.
Cell phones should be turned off or silenced.
Please do not use laptop computers in class.
On most days we will sit in a circle for discussion. Please make sure you have an unobstructed view of each of your classmates.
Assignments are due at the beginning of class on the scheduled date.
See above for policies on participation.
When you have questions about materials or assignments, please raise them in class--others are likely to have the same questions. When you have questions or concerns about your work, problems with the course, or suggestions for improving the class, please come see me as soon as possible. I will do my best to answer questions, resolve problems, and make use of your suggestions. Thanks.
My office is Eaton 204. I will be available for conferences MWF 10:20-11:20 and other times by appointment. You can reach me or my voice mail at x6389, or you can email me at fmichel<a>willamette.edu.