WesMaps - Wesleyan University Catalog 2017-2018       Summer Session       Winter Session       Home       Archive       Search
Utter Nonsense: Making Sense of Literature and Theory
COL 338
Spring 2018
Section: 01  

One of the central concerns of 20th-century literary theory was to figure out how we make sense of texts and, especially, how this making sense of something comes to seem so intuitive and self-evident that we regularly talk about texts themselves as, intrinsically, making sense or not making sense.

This course examines this question by looking closely at a collection of literary texts that seem, in some obvious way, not to make sense on their own. These texts present themselves as utter nonsense, yet they also ask us to make sense of them. Starting from dada and surrealism and working our way through a variety of avant-garde formal experiments, we will look the different ways these texts have been constructed, read, interpreted, and used. At the same time, we will read a series of literary theorists who developed sophisticated psychoanalytic and semiotic accounts of the ways that we make sense of texts and of language more generally. Our goal throughout will be to see how these seemingly marginal works of nonsense literature might illuminate the ways that we make sense of all texts and utterances, even the most common everyday variety.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA COL
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode: Student Option
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (COL)(ENGL)
Past Enrollment Probability: 90% or above

Last Updated on JUN-20-2024
Contact wesmaps@wesleyan.edu to submit comments or suggestions. Please include a url, course title, faculty name or other page reference in your email ? Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, 06459