Readings in Literature and Critical Theory (Post-1800)

L657 — Fall 2020

Rae Greiner
Days and Times
5:45 - 7:00p TR (4 CR)
Course Description

*This course fulfills one course of the two-course research skill for English Ph.D. students.

Topic: David Copperfield and Method

This course is intended to provide students with a better understanding of what constitutes a research method. Is it a set of tools? A heuristic? An ideology? An archive, or just a willingness to go to a (physical) one? Is it a set of practices, available when necessary or desirable and disposable when not, or is it an orientation—a stance—toward one’s object of study? Is a method a politics, in the way that a deeply-held belief might be, or is it more like a toolkit, one from which can be drawn whatever tool is needed, in the moment in which it is most applicable or urgent (a hammer, not a microscope – or vice versa)? To answer some of these questions, this course will focus on a small handful of important recent approaches and methods – New Historicism, New Formalism, Surface Reading, Affect Theory, and (maybe) “presentism” – and will involve the study of one anchoring text: a realist bildungsroman from the nineteenth century, and a classic novel by any standard, Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield. But the class is not designed to appeal only to Victorianists or to Dickens aficionados (lovely as that idea might be!). Instead, it is a course that examines the kinds of writing, thinking, and approaches that are involved in the professional study of literary theory and literary history more broadly. Final projects will likely involve an intensive review of the scholarship in a particular method or approach and an assessment of its value, limits, and contingencies across a range of potential periods, texts, and platforms.


[The L680 section has been established to accommodate students who may also wish to enroll the L657 with Professor Samantrai. The enrollment system will not allow more than one section of the same course within the same semester.]

Interested in this course?

The full details of this course are available on the Office of the Registrar website.

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