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Ways of Reading: Literature about Literature
Spring 2016
Section: 01  

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 course will explore the methods, meanings, and very purposes of literature by reading literature about literature--literature written by authors in their most playfully self-aware and self-interrogating of moods. In one of her novels, Jane Austen celebrates the pleasures and dramatizes the perils of novel reading, and an array of 20th- and 21st-century fiction writers sound similarly self-referential--if slightly more self-defeating--notes. Poets from Edmund Spenser and Alexander Pope to W. H. Auden and Billy Collins have written poetry about poetry, and both Shakespeare and Tom Stoppard write imaginative plays that raise questions about the nature and limits of imagination. We will attend to the different ways that these authors imagine the purposes and possibilities of literature, developing a nuanced sense of literature as a culturally specific phenomenon that fulfills constantly changing needs and desires. Throughout, our emphasis will be on the practice of close reading, on careful attention to how texts construct meanings and make demands on readers.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA ENGL
Course Format: Lecture / DiscussionGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (ENGL)
Past Enrollment Probability: 75% - 89%

Last Updated on SEP-25-2023
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