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Ways of Reading: Unreliability

Spring 2023
Section: 01  
Course Cluster and Certificates: Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory Certificate

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 ENGL 201 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.

In this "Ways of Reading" course we will examine how notions of unreliability and indeterminacy shape literary writing and interpretation alike. We see this most obviously in the figure of the unreliable narrator in fiction, but we also grapple with the (un)reliability of poetic speakers in lyric poems. In fact, unreliability might as well be another way of naming and representing subjectivity. Learning to recognize and parse signs of subjective and/or unreliable accounts is a keystone of literary analysis because it helps us make sense of--and take pleasure in--how the story is told in addition to the content of story. Conversely, some literary texts turn the mirror on us (the readers); that is, they prompt us to reevaluate how our own assumptions, biases, and blind spots figure in our interpretations of texts and dynamics. In this course, students will read and write about a wide range of literary genres including novellas, short stories, lyric poems, and plays that thematize unreliability, confusion, and misprision. In so doing, they will learn to develop their own interpretations of literary texts and craft compelling and nuanced arguments.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA ENGL
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (CSCT)(ENGL)
Past Enrollment Probability: Less than 50%

Last Updated on JUN-21-2024
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