Readings and Assignments

Note: Readings and assignments are due on the day they are listed on the syllabus. Changes or additions to the readings may occur throughout the semester. These will be announced in class. 

“Theory…is the sort of talk we talk when we have lost our consensus, when nothing ‘goes without saying’…”

~David Richter, Falling Into Theory


T 8/23        Introduction to course: “falling into theory” / Calvin and Hobbes cartoon. Basic questions & theoretical orientations.


Th 8/25      Mapping Critical Terrain: “Introduction” in Parker, Ch. 1.       


Literature and the Text

“To incriminate the poet with ideas and feelings is just as absurd as the behavior of the medieval public that beat up the actor who played Judas.”

~ Roman Jakobson, Modern Russian Poetry


T 8/30        From Early Formal Criticism to New Criticism: (De)Authorizing Literary Discourse. Historical survey / Terms and Concepts. Parker, Ch. 2.                 

Th 9/1       New Criticism cont.- / Clip from Short Cuts and excerpt from Regents’ Diagnostic Exam – the politics and influence of New Criticism.



T 9/6         Class cancelled


Th 9/8       Semiotics & structural analysis: Parker, Ch. 3. The action hero story: the “grammar” of literary/cultural narratives. Assign guidelines for Essay 1 .       


Literature, Language and Its Structures of Meaning

“[T]he representational sign never seems to occur in isolation from a whole network of other signs...”

~W.J.T. Mitchell, “Representation”


T 9/13        Begin The House on Mango Street / identifying signs-for-analysis. discovery techniques / sign checklist.


Th 9/15      The House on Mango Street cont-. / workshop ideas for Essay 1.



 Literature, Gender, and Socioeconomics

“If literature speaks gender, along with class and race, the critic has to read culture and ideology.”

Myra Jehlen, “Gender”


T 9/20        Mango Street cont.- Assign article summary: John Berger, Ways of Seeing (due Th 9/29).


Th 9/22      Peer review of Essay 1. (Note Essay Tips) 



T 9/27        Sex and Gender: Mad About You episode / nature versus nurture exercise & discussion / basic questions of feminism.

                  Essay 1 Due


Th 9/29      Feminist Criticism – Terms and Concepts. Parker, Ch. 6. Muriel Rukeyser’s “Myth.”



T 10/4        The Feminist Critique of Objectification: Fetterley / Mulvey/film clips. Assign guidelines for Essay #2.


Th 10/6      Assign guidelines for research paper and proposal. Wrap-up / brief discussion of midterm.   



Literature and Psychology

“The unconscious is the discourse of the Other” ~Jacques Lacan


T 10/11      Midterm Exam (come with a blue book)


Th 10/13    Psychoanalytic Criticism: Terms and Concepts. Parker, Ch. 5. 


F 10/14      Last day to withdraw with a grade of W



T 10/18      Kate Chopin, “The Story of an Hour.” Psychoanalytic readings.


Th 10/20    Peer review of Essay 2. Come with two complete hard copies of your draft (for a grade).



Literature, History, and Ideology

“Ideology is let tenacious as a ‘set of ideas’ than as a system of representations, perceptions, and images that precisely encourages men and women to ‘see’ their specific place in a historically peculiar social formation as inevitable, natural… there is no such thing as social discourse that is nonideological”  ~James Kavanagh, “Ideology”


T 10/25      Marxist Criticism: Terms and Concepts. Parker, Ch. 8. Althusser and ideology: “Go West” campaign. Begin American Born Chinese. Assign Essay #3.

                  Essay 2 due


Th 10/27    Ideology, false consciousness, classism + applications to American Born Chinese.



Literature, Culture, and Nationality

“A boundary is not that at which something stops but, as the Greeks recognized, the boundary is that from which something begins its presencing.”

~Martin Heidegger, “Building, dwelling, thinking”


T 11/1        Hegemony and masculinity in American Born Chinese. Literary research workshop.  


Th 11/3      Workshop on research proposal: samples, strategies, etc. Being conversant with secondary sources.



T 11/8       Peer review of Essay 3. Come with two complete hard copies of your draft (for a grade).  


Th 11/10   Discuss documentation and plagiarism. Incorporating outside sources effectively.

 Essay 3 due 



T 11/15      Proposal Due


Th 11/17    Return and discuss proposals with peers and me. Documentation Guidelines Review.



T 11/22

                  } Thanksgiving Recess, no classes (Nov. 21-25)

Th 11/24



T 11/29     Peer review: Bring one polished copy of your paper. This should include your Works Cited page (due for a daily grade).


Th 12/1      Last day of class: research paper due / final exam /course evaluations.



T 12/6        Final exam due at my office no later than 11a.m.


Note well: Grades will be posted to BanWeb following the final exam period. No grades will be distributed via phone or email.