ENG 655: History of Literary Criticism
In terms of content, The History of Literary Criticism & Theory may be the most unusual and widely-diverse of the courses offered in the graduate program; it is also, arguably, the most crucial to developing a foundation of literary and representational understanding. In this course, we will encounter classical critics of whom you have heard but have likely never read, such as Aristotle, Alexander Pope and Virginia Woolf; we will encounter classical critics of whom you have not heard, most likely, and should read, such Friedrich Schiller, Pierre Bourdieu and Walter Pater. We will confront contemporary theorists whose ideas permeate multiple academic fields, such as Louis Althusser, Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida; we will meet contemporary theorists whose ideas have only recently served as a springboard of further critical thought such as Li Zehou, Judith Butler and Slavoj Zizek. Our reading will be dense but brief (about 50 pages) week to week. Most importantly, we will make application of critical and theoretical ideas to the literature you have read throughout life, from Dr. Seuss to Cormac McCarthy, J. K. Rowling to Neil Gaiman. Particularly if you have ambitions of entering a doctoral program, ENG 655 will be an absolute necessity to you, providing you a solid foundation for the critical and theoretical analysis anticipated at that level.