Introduction to Advanced Study of Literature

L260 — Fall 2018

Ivan Kreilkamp
Woodburn Hall 003
Days and Times
11:15A-12:30P TR
Course Description

Topic: “Introduction to Literature: Authenticity and Irony"

This class serves as a gateway to the English major by introducing students to a range of sophisticated strategies for analyzing and interpreting literature. Goals include fostering a close attention to language, both literal and figurative; an ability to analyze a variety of genres; an appreciation of the impact of historical contexts; and an awareness of traditional and contemporary literary theories. Our particular focus will be on the tension, in major literary texts, between what could be summed up as the values of "Authenticity," on the one hand, and of "Irony," on the other. "Authenticity": literature as a vehicle for sincere self-expression and the presentation of a stable, authentic self. "Irony": literature as a vehicle for play with personae and masks, for ironic disguises, the presentation of invented "character," and for simulations. Final decisions haven't been made, but some of our likely texts include Shakespeare's sonnets and his play Othello; poetry by Robert Browning and Sylvia Plath; Oscar Wilde's play The Importance of Being Earnest; Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, Sudanese novelist Tayeb Salih's Season of Migration to the North, and Alison Bechtel's graphic novel Fun Home. We'll also read a series of works of literary theory and criticism (both essays, and shorter entries from a Glossary of Literary Terms) that will help us better understand precisely how and why a work of literature can operate both or alternately as sincere self-expression and as ironic simulation. Assignments will likely include two formal papers, a midterm and final, reading quizzes, and shorter reading responses.

Interested in this course?

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

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