"Ways of Reading" introduces students to the characteristics thought of as literary and the methods for studying them. This is a gateway course into the English major, and 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, 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 explore the relationship between literature and performance. Writers are performers; language is their instrument and their medium. Literary works are themselves performances that also often present and embody other performances. Writers perform versions of themselves; they also create characters who perform. This aspect of literature is most obvious in drama, but it is also an essential element of lyric poetry and an important aspect of other literary forms as well. In this section of English 201 we will focus on the three traditional genres, reading poetry by Sir Thomas Wyatt, Walt Whitman, and Adrienne Rich, one play each by Shakespeare, David Henry Hwang, and Tennessee Williams, as well as fictional works by Jane Austen, Nella Larsen, and Herman Melville.