Critical Practices

L371 — Fall 2021

Nicholas Williams
Days and Times
9:25a - 10:40a TR (3 CR)
Course Description

Critical Practices is a course that allows students to think about questions that most literature classes raise but which often aren’t the focus of discussion: What is the function of literature and how does it relate to other disciplines, such as the sciences? When we read a text from the past, should we try to put ourselves in a mindset from the past in order to understand it? What kind of thing is language and how could a better understanding of it help us to understand literature? To what extent does literature (and the arts more generally) speak to aspects of human psychology which lie deeper than reason and the conscious mind?

We’ll sample critical works from some of the best thinkers about these and other questions, also bringing the questions to a selection of literary texts that will allow us to develop our ideas on these matters. Since theoretical texts can be difficult, the focus will be on enhancing student understanding of the material, a challenge I take seriously as an instructor. Student work will include informal responses, exams and essays.

Interested in this course?

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

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