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Ways of Reading: Literature About Literature
Fall 2020 not offered

Ways of Reading courses introduce students to the characteristics thought of as literary and the methods for studying them. This is a gateway course into the English major. Only one of the ENGL201 series may be taken for credit.

Ways of Reading courses develop strategies for careful and close reading, and techniques for the analysis of literary forms such as poetry and drama, and prose narratives such as novels and short stories. They familiarize students with some of the protocols of the literary-critical essay, examine the idea of literature as a social institution, and explore ways of connecting textual details and the world beyond the text. The ways of reading learned in the course are powerful tools for critically assessing discourses that expand far beyond the realm of literature. So while students will become adept literary critics, they also will learn quickly that to be a literary critic is to read critically and carefully all the time: in poems, novels, and plays, but also in political speech, in popular culture, and in the discourses that shape everyday life.

This "Ways of Reading" course will ask: What is literature? We will read literature written by authors in their most playfully self-aware, self-interrogating moods: William Shakespeare raising questions about the nature and limits of imagination, Jane Austen dramatizing the perils of novel reading, and Adrienne Rich pondering female forms of making. We will engage recent theoretical debates about what literature is, but we will also read literature that does not share our 21st-century ideas, literature that works from different world views and strives for different effects. For instance, enslaved poet Phillis Wheatley embraced neoclassical forms of ordering--the weight of multiple historical traditions informing her sense of what poems are and do. Throughout, we will reckon with literary texts on their own terms but also with the ways they have been read at different moments in history. What is literature and what was it? How do we read it? What methods and theories have been ascendant at different moments? And why do we read it? What are its pleasures, problems, and possibilities? How did we end up with an English Department organized like this anyway?
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA ENGL
Course Format: Lecture / DiscussionGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (ENGL)

Last Updated on JUN-24-2024
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