ENGL 7790 Literary Critical Theory: Issues and Approaches
Introduction to Poststructuralism
In the Spring of 1968, France, and later the rest of Europe, was turned upside down by student and worker protests and uprisings. As well as issues of student overcrowding and wage inequities, much of this political upheaval was engendered by philosophers and critics who were questioning the legacy of Enlightenment thought. Part of this questioning centered on a critique of language and its role in the perpetuation of ideology. This course will explore the movement known as post-structuralism, which emerged from this period of critique, through an examination of the work of the main theorists of the movement, including Deleuze, Guattari, Baudrillard, de Man, Derrida, Foucault, Lyotard, Lacan, and Kristeva. However, we will approach these ideas from the premise that they cannot be studied in isolation from the philosophical tradition that informs them. Accordingly, we will begin by reviewing the metaphysical tradition instituted by Descartes and demonstrate how post-structuralism as a movement proceeds from a critique of the Cartesian cogito with its assumption of a self-knowing subject who is the originator of truth. At stake in this critique is the role of the subject and his/her place in language, and the function of representation. The course will therefore examine not only a post-structuralist critique of metaphysics and representation but also the critiques undertaken by psychoanalytic, feminist, post-colonial, and cultural studies theorists.
The two required texts for this class are:
The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism , ed. Vincent B. Leitch.
The Columbia Dictionary of Modern Literary and Cultural Criticism , ed. Childers and Hentzi.
We will read essays by Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Saussure, Bakhtin, Horkheimer and Adorno, Lacan, Kristeva, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Lévi-Strauss, Austin, de Man, Williams, Baudrillard, Deleuze and Guattari, Lyotard, Foucault, Habermas, Derrida, Hall, Jameson, Said, Spivak, Greenblatt, Haraway, and Sedgwick from the anthology.
These readings will be supplemented by selections from the following texts:
Descartes, Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy
Heidegger, Being and Time
Colebrook, Ethics and Representation
Zizek, The Sublime Object of Ideology
Irigaray, This Sex Which is Not One
Bhabha, The Location of Culture
Butler , Bodies That Matter
Weekly response papers, student presentation, final seminar paper