ENGL 602-001—Critical Theory (Spring 2011) (3.0 hrs.)

6:30-9:15 Thursday

Kinard 111

Dr. John Bird

Office:  260 Bancroft

Phone:  323-3679

e-mail:  birdj@winthrop.edu


Web Page: http://www.faculty.winthrop.edu/birdj

Office Hours:  MW 2:00-3:30

R 3:30-6:30

or by appointment


A study of critical theory, from classical texts to the present, with a special emphasis on the most important contemporary theoretical trends.



Within the content knowledge area, students will demonstrate knowledge of various forms of written texts, major periods in the history of English, American, and world literatures, and the standard terminology of literary analysis. Also, students will demonstrate knowledge of professional standards of grammar and mechanics, scholarly reference methodology and tools, and various critical approaches to literary analysis.

Student Objectives: Content Knowledge. The student will demonstrate knowledge of:

                     various forms of written texts (including fiction, poetry, drama, essay, and other literary genres)

                     major periods in the history of English, American, and world literature in terms of cultural contexts, styles, dominant genres, language, and subject matter

                     major similarities and differences among British, American, and other national literatures

                     professional standards of grammar, mechanics, and usage accepted in the scholarly community

                     standard reference tools, methods, and forms of documentation used in scholarly research

                     the standard terminology of literary analysis used in scholarly writing

                     various critical perspectives such as the formalist, structuralist, and post-structuralist approaches

                     the English language, including its structure, grammar, vocabulary, and historical development

                     writers from different cultural, ethnic, and minority backgrounds

Student Objectives: Skills in Analysis, Writing, and Communication. The student will:

                     present orally the findings of research and critical analysis

                     demonstrate the correct use of standard reference tools, the proper handling of primary and secondary sources, and proper documentation of all sources

                     write research papers and critical analyses on appropriate topics from language, literature, or pedagogy

                     demonstrate a publishable level of critical, creative, or pedagogical materials

                     sustain a high standard of written expression in lengthy critical or creative works (including but not limited to theses)

                     demonstrate synthesizing skills through a comprehensive final examination


See English Department goals at http://www2.winthrop.edu/english/EGS/GraduateGoals.htm



         Students will be able to explain the historical, literary, and cultural contexts of various critics and critical approaches.

         Students will demonstrate mastery of major critical approaches.

         Students will be able to identify major theories, critics, and critical concepts.

         Students will be able to create, support, and defend their own critical arguments and analyses about critical theories.

         Students will demonstrate the ability to find and use appropriate secondary material in support of their own critical arguments

          Students will demonstrate the ability to document the use of borrowed information in MLA style.




Winthrop University is dedicated to providing access to education. If you have a disability and require specific accommodations to complete this course, contact Services for Students with Disabilities at 323-3290. Once you have your official notice of accommodations from Services for Students with Disabilities, please inform me as early as possible in the semester. If you have questions about accessibility statements or other accommodation issues, please contact Services for Students with Disabilities. Information about services and accommodations is also available on the Services for Students with Disabilities Web site: http://www2.winthrop.edu/hcs/DS.htm



As noted in the Student Conduct Code: “Responsibility for good conduct rests with students as adult individuals.”  The policy on student academic misconduct is outlined in the “Student Conduct Code Academic Misconduct Policy online:  http://www2.winthrop.edu/studentaffairs/handbook/StudentHandbook.pdf



I will follow the College of Arts and Sciences policy regarding cell phones, laptops, and other electronic devices: 




91-100 A

81-90   B

71-80   C

61-70   D

0-60     F



<    keep up with all reading

<    attendance, participation, and oral presentations

<    reading journal/class notebook (5%)

<    weekly blogs and discussion forums (10%)

<    two 4-6 pp. papers (20% each)

<    one 10-12 pp. critical essay (25%)

<    final exam (20%) 


ATTENDANCE: Attendance in graduate seminars is crucial, especially since graduate students provide much of the content of the course.  Except for emergencies, you should never miss any classes, but if you find that you must miss, please let me know, beforehand if possible.



David H. Richter, The Critical Tradition: Classic Text and Contemporary Trends (3rd ed.)

Charles E. Bressler, Literary Criticism: An Introduction to Theory and Practice (4th ed.)






SYLLABUS (students are responsible for any changes):


R 13


R 20


Introduction (1)

Classical Theory: Plato (25)–Republic Book X (30),  Ion (38), Phaedrus (46); Aristotle (55)–Poetics (59); Horace (121)–The Art of Poetry (84); Longinus (95)–On the Sublime (97); Plotinus (109)–On the Intellectual Beauty (174)

Bressler: Defining Criticism, Theory, and Literature (1); A Historical Survey of Literary Criticism (20)

R 27

Medieval/Renaissance: Dante Alighieri (120)–“The Letter to Can Grande della Scala” (121); Christine de Pizan (124)–La Querelle de la Rose (126); Sir Philip Sidney (132)–An Apology for Poetry (135) (selections TBA); Enlightenment: John Dryden (160)–“An Essay of Dramatic Poesy” (163); Aphra Behn (189)–“Epistle to the Reader” (192), “Preface to The Lucky Chance” (195)


R 3

Enlightenment: Alexander Pope (198)– “An Essay on Criticism” (199); Samuel Johnson (210)–“The Rambler, No. 4” (212), Rasselas, Ch.10 (215), Preface to Shakespeare (216); David Hume (231)–“On the Standard of Taste” (234); Emmanuel Kant (247)–Critique of Judgment, First Book (251)

R 10

19th Century: Mary Wollstonecraft (275)–A Vindication of the Rights of Women (277); William Wordsworth (304)–“Preface to Lyrical Ballads” (306); Samuel Taylor Coleridge (319)–Biographia Literaria (325); Percy Bysshe Shelley (344)–A Defence of Poetry (346); Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (369)–Introduction to the Philosophy of Art (373); Matthew Arnold (412)–The Function of Criticism at the Present Time (415); Friedrich Nietzsche (435); From The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music (439)

***Paper #1 due

R 17

Formalisms: Russian Formalism, New Criticism, Neo-Aristotelianism (749): T. S. Eliot (534)–“Tradition and the Individual Talent” (537); Mikhail Bakhtin (575)–Heteroglossia in the Novel (588); Cleanth Brooks (797)–My Credo: Formalist Criticism (798), Irony as a Principle of Structure (799); Kenneth Burke (633)–Symbolic Action in a Poem by Keats (636), Literature as Equipment for Living (645); William K. Wimsatt and Monroe C. Beardsley (810)–“The Intentional Fallacy” (811)

Bressler: Russian Formalism and New Criticism (50)

R 24

Structuralism and Deconstruction (819): Ferdinand de Saussure (841)–Nature of the Linguistic Sign (842), [Binary Oppositions] (845); Roland Barthes (868)–The Structuralist Activity (871), The Death of the Author (874); From Work to Text (878); Paul de Man (882)–Semiology and Rhetoric (882); Michel Foucault (904)–What Is an Author? (904); Jacques Derrida (914)–Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences (915)

Bressler: Structuralism and Deconstruction (96)


R 3

Reader-Response Theory (962): Hans Robert Jauss (981)–[The Three Horizons of Reading] (982);Wayne C. Booth (989)–Control of Distance in Jane Austen’s Emma (989); Wolfgang Iser (1001)–The Reading Process:  A Phenomenological Approach (1002); Stanley Fish (1022)–How to Recognize a Poem When You See One (1023); Judith Fetterley (1035)–Introduction to The Resisting Reader (1035); Peter Rabinowitz (1042)–From Before Reading (1043)

Bressler: Reader-Oriented Criticism (72)

R 10

Psychoanalytic Theory and Criticism: Sigmund Freud (497)–The Dream-Work from The Interpretation of Dreams (500), [Creative Writing and Daydreaming] (509); Carl Gustav Jung (542)–On the Relation of Analytical Psychology to Poetry (544), The Principle Archetypes (554); Harold Bloom (1155)–A Meditation upon Priority (1156); Jacques Lacan (1122)–The Miirror Stage as Formative of the Function of the I as Revealed in Psychoanalytic Experience (1123), The Agency of the Letter in the Unconscious or Reason Since Freud (1129); Peter Brooks (1161)–Freud’s Masterplot (1161); Laura Mulvey (1172)–Visual Pleasure and Narative Cinema (1172)

Bressler: Psychoanalytic Criticism (142)

***Paper # 2 due


Spring Break

R 24

Marxism: Karl Marx (397)–The Alienation of Labor (400), Consciousness Derived from Material Conditions 406), On Greek Art in Its Time (410); Georg Lukács (1217)–The Ideology of Modernism (1218); Walter Benjamin (1232)–The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (1232); Raymond Williams (1272)–from Marxism and Literature (1272); Fredric Jameson (1290)–From The Political Unconscious (1291); Terry Eagleton (1307)–Categories for a Materialist Criticism (1308)

 Bressler: Marxism (191)   

R 31

New Historicism and Cultural Studies (1320): Michel Foucault (1357)–Las Meninas (1357); Hayden White (1383)–The Historical Text as Literary Artifact (1384); Nancy Armstrong (1418)– Some Call It Fiction: On the Politics of Domesticity ((1419); Steven Greenblatt (1442)–Introduction to The Power of Forms in the English Renaissance (1443), King Lear and Harsnett’s “Devil-Fiction” (1445); John Guillory (1471)–From Cultural Capital:  The Problem of Literary Canon Formation (1472)

Bressler: Cultural Poetics or New Historicism  (212)


R 7

Feminist Literary Criticism (1502): Virginia Woolf (596)–from A Room of One’s Own: Shakespeare’s Sister (599), Austen–Bronte–Eliot (602), The Androgynous Vision (607)1021); Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar (1531)–from Infection in the Sentence: The Woman Writer and the Anxiety of Authorship (1532); Annette Kolodny (1550)–Dancing Through the Minefield: Some Observations on the Theory, Practice, and Politics of Feminist Literary Criticism (1550); Barbara Smith (1600)–Toward a Black Feminist Criticism (1600) Bressler: Feminism (167)

R 14

Gender Studies and Queer Theory (1611): Michel Foucault (1627)–From The History of Sexuality (1627); Monique Wittig (1637)–One Is Not Born a Woman (1637); HélPne Cixous (1643)–The Laugh of the Medusa (1643); Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick (1683)–from Epistemology of the Closet (1687); Steven Kruger (1691)–Claiming the Pardoner: Toward a Gay Reading of Chaucer’s Pardoner’s Tale (1692); Judith Butler (1707)–Imitation and Gender Insubordination (1707)

Bressler: Queer Theory (252)

***Critical paper due

R 21

Postcolonialism and Ethnic Studies (1753): W.E.B. Du Bois (565)–[On Double Consciousness] from The Souls of Black Folk (569); Chinua Achebe (1783)–An Image of Africa (1783); Toni Morrison (1791)–From Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination (1791); Edward Said (1801)–From the Introduction to Orientalism (1801); Gayatri Spivak (1836)–Three Women’s Texts and a Critique of Imperialism (1837); Barbara Christian (1858)–The Race for Theory (1859); Henry Louis Gates Jr. (1890)–Writing, “Race,” and the Difference It Makes (1891)

Bressler: Cultural Studies (233)

T 26

Study Day

R 28

Final Exam–6:30 p.m.