Lower Division Course Descriptions
ETS 107-1 Living Writers
W 3:45-6:30 PM
ETS 107-2 through 10
W 3:45-6:30 PM
This class gives students the rare opportunity to hear visiting writers read and discuss their work. The class is centered on six readings and question-and-answer sessions. Students will be responsible for careful readings of the writers’ work. Critical writing and detailed class discussions are required to prepare for the question-and-answer sessions with the visiting writers. The first class meets in Gifford Auditorium.
ETS 114-4 British Literature, 1789 to Present
ETS 114-5 Discussion Section Th 3:30-4:25PM
ETS 114-6 Discussion Section Th 5:00-5:55PM
Instructor: Mike Goode
This course will examine just over two centuries of Britain’s literary history, covering the literature and culture of the Romantic Age, the Victorian Age, and the twentieth century. Historical topics will include: political revolution; the industrial revolution; the Enlightenment; urbanization; evolution; religion; social reform movements; race, class, gender, and sexual politics; nationalism; imperialism; colonialism and its aftermath; the World Wars; postmodernism; and the history of literary forms. Readings will include novels, poems, plays, and other historical texts, covering writers such as William Blake, William Wordsworth, Jane Austen, Robert Browning, Charles Dickens, Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde, W. B. Yeats, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, Graham Greene, Sam Selvon, Salman Rushdie, Johnny Rotten, Bob Marley, and Ian McEwan. Assignments will include three five-page papers and a final examination.
ETS 117-1 American Literature, Beginnings to 1865
Instructor: Rachel Snyder-Lockman
This writing-intensive course offers an introduction to the literatures of America between the time of European contact and the Civil War. Writing in 1782, J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur posed one of the central questions of the period: “What is an American?” Through the close reading of sermons, autobiographies, poetry, short fiction, novels, and nonfiction, we will investigate the role of literature in answering this question. Further, we will explore how issues such as the colonization of Native Americans, slavery, and women’s social and political inequality complicate this question. Structured chronologically, the course will provide opportunities to gain understanding of the literature as well as the political, cultural, and social history of the period. Possible assignments include but are not limited to the following: weekly written reflections, three five-page papers, and a final exam.
ETS 118-1 American Literature, 1865 to Present
Instructor: Maxwell Cassity
This course will explore major authors and literary movements in American Literature from 1865 to the present. Course readings will include fiction, essays, and poetry from authors who have been canonized into mainstream literary studies as well authors who might be less well-known, but are equally important to the development of U.S. literary culture. During this course students will read literature emerging during moments of historical and aesthetic transition in American history, and interrogate connections between American literature, culture, politics, and history. Authors may include: James Weldon Johnson, Zitcala Ša, Zora Neale Hurston, William Faulkner, Toni Morrison, Amiri Baraka, Thomas Pynchon, Ishmael Reed, Maxine Hong Kingston, and others.
ETS 119-1 Topics in U.S. Lit History: U.S. Fiction 1940-2015
Instructor: Susan Edmunds
This course offers a survey of postwar U.S. novels and short stories from the late forties to the early 2000s. We will interpret the fiction through a sociohistorical lens, with particular emphasis placed on investigating the interconnections between literary form and social change. After an initial survey of fiction written in direct response to World War II and its aftermath, we will read texts associated with or influenced by the counterculture, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights, Black Power and Black Arts Movements, Second Wave Feminism, the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, and late twentieth-century U.S. consumerism.
ETS 121-1 Introduction to Shakespeare
ETS 121-2 Discussion Section F 10:35-11:30AM
ETS 121-3 Discussion Section F 10:35-11:30AM
ETS 121-4 Discussion Section F 11:40-12:35PM
ETS 121-5 Discussion Section F 11:40-12:35PM
Instructor: Dympna Callaghan
This course offers an intensive introduction to the life and language of arguably the world’s greatest writer, William Shakespeare. This class will focus on two key issues: first, the relation between Shakespeare’s life and his work, and secondly, on the language of his plays and poems. We examine four plays great literary and historical detail. No previous familiarity with Shakespeare is required, but you do need to be committed to careful and sustained critical reading and analysis as well as active participation in Friday discussion sections. The main goals of this class are to help you read and enjoy Shakespeare, to foster rigorous intellectual engagement with his work, and to allow you develop your own critical writing skills. We will emphasize understanding and engagement with Shakespeare’s language rather than simply its “translation” or the rehearsal of plotlines. Since Shakespeare’s language is what most distinguishes him from his rivals and collaborators—as well as what most embeds him in his own historical moment—this class will take language to be the very heart of Shakespeare’s literary achievement rather than as an obstacle to be circumvented by the reader or audience. This is a writing intensive class. In this class, the requirement will be met by means of formal essays and essay exams, informal papers as well as in-class writing and drafts of formal papers.
ETS 145-1 Reading Popular Culture
Film Screening Th 6:30-9:15PM
Instructor: Evan Hixon
This course will serve as an introduction to the critical examination of mass consumer culture, the industries which produce that culture and the communities which emerge around popular texts. In this course, students will explore what defines a text as being a part of ‘popular culture’ and in doing so, the course will attempt to articulate what these objects of mass consumption and the modes of their consumption might teach us about the culture that produced them and the individuals that consumed them. We will challenge the common assumption which places popular culture texts as disposable objects of consumption and we will interrogate both why we view mass consumption this way and why it is important to move past this dismissal of these texts. Over the course of the semester, we will examine a number of different strategies and theoretical methodologies for approaching the study of popular culture. We will examine questions concerning what makes an object part of popular culture and what the function of delineations between various kinds of artistic consumption serve. Examining texts covering a wide range of medium, from television to film to graphic novels to internet ephemera, we will take seriously the suggestion that objects of mass consumption are worthy of extended critical examination. Possible texts include Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, Alan Moore’s Watchmen, and 20th Century Fox’s The Simpsons.
ETS 145-5 Reading Popular Culture
Film Screening M 6:45-9:30PM
Instructor: Hillarie Curtis
For years, culture critics expressed anxiety over the top-down model of mass culture: the latest commercial, television series, or magazine filled our living rooms with dominant cultural ideas. However, more recently cultural studies have shifted to a discussion of popular culture, reclaiming mass culture as the culture of the people. In this framework, audiences do not passively consume mass culture but instead make it relevant to their lives in a reflexive relationship, thereby resisting the forces of dominant ideas present in mass culture texts. Tracking themes of fantasy and fear, alongside various theoretical modes concerning identity, we will identify these dominant ideologies, modes of resistance, and the various forces within fan culture operating around popular culture texts. Specific case studies may include episodes of Firefly and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Harry Potter series, Overwatch, Don Delillo’s novel White Noise, and other films, short stories, and television shows. Students are encouraged to bring their own knowledge and interests into class assignments and discussion. In-class participation, several short critical essays, reading quizzes, a mid-term and final exam, and a final creative project will all be vital components to the class. The weekly screenings are required.
ETS 151-1 Interpretation of Poetry
Instructor: Jules Gibbs
The course will consist of discussions of poems from the various traditions of poetry: from anonymous ballads to spoken word poetry. We will be interested in what makes the poem memorable and moving, how it is a vehicle for the intellect and the emotions. We will also considerin what ways the poem provokes and challenges us, what gives the poem its power to seduce and trouble and soothe, what gives it its music and voice as distinct from speech. Students will be asked to write 6 two-page papers in which they examine closely a single poem by a poet from the text. Students may opt to write more papers (up to 8) and receive extra consideration for them. In addition, students will be asked to choose a poet and present the work of the poet in a 4 to 5 page paper. Emphasis in discussions is on style and substance, music and image. Multiple ways of reading poems will help the students expand the range of poetic possibilities.
ETS 153-1 Interpretation of Fiction
ETS 153-3 Discussion Section F 10:35-11:30AM
ETS 153-4 Discussion Section F 11:40-12:35PM
Instructor: Erin Mackie
Cultures tell many of their most profound truths in their fictions. We will look at the truths of fictions across a range of narrative forms, from the faery tale to the novel. As we read we will develop an awareness of the elements of fiction: plot, setting, character, point-of-view, style, and theme. We will pay attention not only to the story told but also to who is telling it and to whom, its narrator and its audience. And always, we will think about the values, or truths, promoted by the fiction and the ends it seeks to achieve in its telling.
ETS 153-2 Interpretation of Fiction
Instructor: Sean Conrey
This course introduces students to techniques and approaches to interpreting and analyzing fiction. We will develop close reading skills while learning to recognize the formal aspects of literary fiction, namely plot, character, setting, point of view, imagery and intertextuality. Across a range of texts from short stories, comics, novels, digital media and video games, we will work at developing critical reading habits in conjunction with the skills necessary to convey our interpretations in writing. Readings will be loosely organized around ways that cultures and countercultures interact, considering the dynamics between cultural insiders and outsiders, the position of the "other," and particularly the ways that artists can interrupt, reify, interrogate and disturb privileged ways of living. Texts in this course may include stories by Denis Johnson, Toni Cade Bambara, Sherman Alexie, and Mohja Kahf, novels (graphic and otherwise) such as Watchmen by Alan Moore and Big Sur by Jack Kerouac, films such as Children of Men and Lost in Translation, and the video game Never Alone.
ETS 154-1 Interpretation of Film
Film Screening Tu 6:30-9:15PM
Instructor: Elizabeth Gleesing
This course provides an introduction to watching, analyzing, and writing about film. We will spend time learning how to closely analyze film by discussing how films make meaning using techniques such as arranging props and actors on-screen, cutting between scenes, using camera angles to impart different meanings, and using the soundtrack to manipulate perspective and convey mood. Learning how to pay attention to these small details of what we see and hear in a film are the foundation for “reading” or analyzing a film. Along with analyzing films from the standpoint of how meaning is constructed at the formal level, we will also look at how films operate within an historical and social context and how one can look at film through the lenses of reception studies, film promotion, and a film’s stars. The films we watch will be primarily English-language and we will be watching a variety of films from different eras, the silent period up to the contemporary moment. In addition to meeting two times a week for class discussion, this course has a weekly required screening.
ETS 154-2 Interpretation of Film
Film Screening W 6:45-9:30PM
Instructor: Johnathan Sanders
From its humble origins as a sideshow spectacle, film quickly matured into the dominant medium of the 20th century, and remains a towering cultural and artistic form to this day. However, while we are immersed in film culture, how many of us have the interpretative tools necessary to decode cinema, to “read” them as unique and meaningful visual texts? This course aims to foster those skills. Through the course of our discussions, students will become familiar with the terminology, techniques, and historical context necessary for analyzing and writing about film from a textual studies perspective. Along the way, students will be exposed to multiple primarily English Language films from across the history of cinema in order to apply and practice their analytical skills, from the early days of proto-cinematic technologies to the post-celluloid films of the digital era. This course will touch on topics such as: formalistic concepts of film; narrative traditions in Hollywood cinema; counter traditions in avant-garde works; discussions of genre; animation and digital cinema; the influence of queer and feminist voices in cinema; and new media/digital film. Note: in addition to the class meetings, weekly screenings are required for this course.
ETS 155-1 Interpretation of Nonfiction
MW 3:45 – 5:05 PM
Instructor: Steven Doles
This course is a cross-media introduction to the interpretation of nonfiction. Students in the course will be exposed to a variety of forms of literary nonfiction, including the essay, memoir, journalism, true crime, and popular medical accounts. Visual and interactive works of nonfiction might include documentaries, essay films, news broadcasts, photo essays, reality television, or serious games. The organizing idea behind the course is the way in which nonfiction texts bring us to look anew at ourselves and at others. We will give particular attention to texts which give intense scrutiny to their authors’ own lives and histories, as well as those of other people, particularly across lines of class, race, and ability. Assignments for the course will include four response papers, a shorter critical essay, and a longer final critical paper. Books we read might include Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking; Alison Bechdel, Fun Home; James Agee and Walker Evans, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men; Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed, Truman Capote, In Cold Blood; and Oliver Sacks, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.
ETS 170-1 American Cinema, From Beginnings to Present
Film Screening Tu 6:30-9:15PM
ETS 170-2 Discussion Section F 9:30-10:25AM
ETS 170-3 Discussion Section F 9:30-10:25AM
ETS 170-4 Discussion Section F 10:35-11:30AM
ETS 170-5 Discussion Section F 10:35-11:30AM
Instructor: Will Scheibel
This course covers the history of American cinema from its emergence as a celluloid-based medium in the late nineteenth-century to its digital development at the intersections of multiple media companies and platforms. We will look at fiction and non-fiction films, narrative and avant-garde modes, and Hollywood and independent productions. Our goal will be to understand how to interpret the aesthetics and ideologies of American films at particular historical moments—in the contexts of the film industry, mass culture, and a national artistic tradition—and how to account for change over time. Topics will include: the rise of cinema as an institution; the standardization of American film genres and storytelling; the classical studio and star systems of Hollywood; the shift to color, widescreen, and location shooting in the late studio era; the promotion of naturalism through Method acting and censorship deregulation; new waves of film school-trained and independent directors; the political effects of the Cold War, the counterculture, and September 11; and the technologies and economics of the twenty-first century blockbuster. Attendance at weekly screenings is required.
ETS 174-1 World Literature, Beginnings to 1000 C.E.
Instructor: Harvey Teres
This course will introduce you to some of the most valued and enduring examples of world literature from ancient times to 1000 C.E. Its goal is to enhance your global cultural literacy by familiarizing you with the most influential books and cultures in history. This will prepare you to better understand your diverse world and become an informed global citizen. It will also provide essential background for understanding English and American literature and culture. We will begin with some of the oldest literature in the world (Gilgamesh and Egyptian love poems), and go on to read sections from the Hebrew Bible (the “Old” Testament), Sanskrit and Greek epics (The Ramayana and The Iliad), classical Chinese philosophy (Confucius and Zhuangzi), Greek and Roman lyric poetry (Sappho, Catullus, Horace, and others), The New Testament, Saint Augustine’s Confessions, Chinese Tang dynasty poetry (Li Bai, Du Fu, Wang Wei, and others), excerpts from the Qur’an, stories from 1001 Nights, and excerpts from The Tale of Genji by the Japanese woman writer Murasaki Shikibu, arguably the first novel ever written. Classes will alternate between lectures and discussions. You will have the option of either producing shorter response papers or traditional midterm and final interpretive essays.
ETS 181-3 Class and Literary Texts: Modern European Literature
Instructor: Kevin Morrison
This course will provide you with an introduction to nineteenth and twentieth century fiction, poetry, and drama, including the works of Charles Dickens, Émile Zola, Henrik Ibsen, and Samuel Beckett. Our readings will be contextualized historically, culturally, and geographically but organized thematically to encourage comparative analysis. Class and class relations will serve as lenses through which to interpret each text. This is a writing-intensive course intended to familiarize students with the thought processes, structures, and styles associated with writing in the liberal arts.
ETS 182-1 Race and Literary Texts
Instructor: Ashley O’Mara
Novelist Toni Morrison once said that “Racism is a construct, a social construct … but ‘race’ can only be defined as a human being,” and literature has been one of the most important means of developing, articulating, revising, and responding to ideas about race and racism — from the earliest days of English-language writing through our current political moment. By examining works by Arab, Asian, Black, Indigenous, Latina/o, and white authors, we will explore how literary texts have helped shape and been shaped by discourses of race across history and geography. We will pay special attention to intersectionality as we consider how authors’ representations of race and racism intersect with other categories of difference and systems of oppression, including religion, colonialism, and imperialism; class and classism; gender, sexual orientation, and heteropatriarchy; and disability and ableism. The class will look at a range of media and genres, including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, theater, film, the graphic novel, fan works, and music, in order to consider how authors use narrative strategies and generic conventions to both construct race and critically examine its varied constructions. Readings will range from William Shakespeare and Aphra Behn to Suheir Hammad and Junot Díaz; from early travel narratives and folk stories to Civil Rights speeches and contemporary sitcoms. Critical readings may include theory from Sarah Ahmed, Gloria Anzaldúa, bell hooks, Audre Lorde, and Jasbir Puar, which students will use and evaluate as different lenses through which to interpret and assess primary texts. Students will develop literacy and analytic skills through close-readings, critical essays, and creative projects based on the course texts. This course satisfies the writing-intensive requirements of the Liberal Arts Core.
ETS 182-2 Race and Literary Texts: “Black Is and Black Ain’t”: Blackness in American Literature
Instructor: Meina Yates-Richard
This course introduces students to the study of fiction through the close reading and analysis of texts that grapple with “blackness” as a racial, cultural, and social construct. We will engage with a range of American literary texts and cultural objects, attending to the ways in these objects construct, deconstruct, represent, and interpret “blackness.” We will track both continuities and changes within representations of “blackness” over time and place, considering how the concepts of race, ethnicity, culture, and place intersect within different historical periods to influence representations and social interpretations of “blackness” in American letters. The course will examine these key questions among others: What is race? What is “blackness?” What are the defining characteristics of “blackness?” How do gender and sexual identities intersect with racial identities? Are race and “blackness” still salient concepts in the 21st Century? Readings for the course will likely include works by W.E.B. Du Bois, William Faulkner, Willa Cather, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Nella Larsen, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin and others as we interrogate the social, cultural, and literary meanings of “blackness.”
ETS 184-1 Ethnicity and Literary Texts: U.S. Ethnic Literatures and Diaspora
Instructor: Christopher Eng
How do we narrate the terms of refuge—the desires, aspirations, and obstacles for making a home? As global shifts compel unprecedented rates of movement within and across borders, the familiar form of the “immigrant narrative” seems increasingly insufficient for addressing these changing realities. Instead, scholars have proposed the concept of “diaspora” to not only map multiple routes of dispersal and relocation, but also explore various involuntary reasons for migration, such as exile, war, and labor. Diaspora also facilitates insights into alternative forms of community and belonging produced through transnational identifications. Through engagements with U.S. ethnic literatures, we will ask: how does diaspora allow us to reconceptualize popular ideas of place, cultural identity, and national belonging? How do place and movement intersect with the productions of race, sexuality, and cultural citizenship? We will explore the uses and limits of diaspora through a wide range of scholarly and literary readings by authors such as Junot Díaz, Jamaica Kincaid, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Aimee Phan. Collectively, these readings will allow us to contemplate the intimate links between literature and processes of place-making as they illuminate and rework shifting notions of refuge and belonging within our globalized world today.
ETS 184-2 Ethnicity & Literary texts: Great Jewish Writers
Instructor: Ken Frieden
A wide-angle panorama of great stories written by Jewish authors, including Genesis, S. Y. Abramovitsh, Sholem Aleichem, I. L. Peretz, Franz Kafka, S. Y. Agnon, Elie Wiesel, and Yiddish women writers. Topics include ancient biblical wisdom, shtetl life, superstition, modernization, alienation, and rebellion against authority, radical textualism, love, marriage, and the Nazi genocide. Our literary approach to works in the Jewish literary tradition emphasizes interconnections between theme and rhetoric. Immersion in texts, a particular tendency in traditional Jewish circles, sometimes appears as an escape from Jews’ powerlessness in the outside world. The strategy has limitations. We will be discussing the following writers: Alter, Robert. Genesis: Translation and Commentary; Classic Yiddish Stories of S. Y. Abramovitsh, Sholem Aleichem, and I L. Peretz; Kafka, Franz. The Complete Stories; Agnon, S. Y. A Book that Was Lost: Thirty-Five Stories; Wiesel, Elie. Night. Trans. Marion Wiesel; Appelfeld, Aharon. Badenheim 1939; and Keret, Etgar. Four Stories. Meets with JSP/LIT/REL-131-1.
ETS 184-3 Ethnicity & Literary Texts: Introduction to Latino Literature
Instructor: Silvio Torres-Saillant
This course introduces students to US authors of Hispanic descent from the 19th century, when Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton and others began producing literary works in English, to the remarkable success of Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Junot Diaz, recipient of the MacArthur Genius Award in 2012, and the appointment of Jose Felipe Herrera as United States Poet Laureate in 2015. Placing the writers in a history whose beginnings date back to the arrival of Spanish conquistadors in Florida by 1513 and their subsequent takeover of what is now the US Southwest, the course offers background that sheds light on the five centuries of Hispanic cultural production on this North American land. We will cover poetry, drama, short fiction, novels, memoirs, and essays. In an attempt to account for the various national origins represented within the Latino category, the reading list consists of American writers who trace their ancestry to Mexico, South America, Puerto Rico, Ecuador, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. Overall, the course highlights the literary creativity of a population whose presence on this land precedes the arrival of the English in Jamestown by nearly a century.
ETS 192-1 Gender & Literary Texts: I do/I don’t: Marriage, Gender, and Sexuality in American Literature
Instructor: Dorri Beam
This course examines the development of the institution of marriage in the U.S. and the way it shapes lives, identities, gender roles, social relations, and the very fabric of society. Beginning in the nineteenth century and ending with current marriage equality debates, we’ll examine literary representations of marriage and deviations from it—including bachelorhood, romantic friendship, Boston marriage, extended kinship networks, interracial marriage, divorce, polygamy, and gay marriage—to ask how gender and sexuality are being shaped by each imaginative plotting of marriage or resistance to it. Texts will range from Hannah Foster’s The Coquette and short stories by Henry James and Sarah Orne Jewett, to Zitkala Sa’s American Indian Stories, and up to Christopher Isherwood’s A Single Man, Silva Plath’s The Bell Jar, Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel, Fun Home, and the TV series Big Love. Crosslisted with WGS 192-1.
ETS 192-2 Gender & Literary Texts
Instructor: Haejoo Kim
The aim of this course is to explore the textual representations of gender and their cultural and social implications. By looking at a variety of materials including novels, essays, short stories, poems, and films, we will examine how gender as a social category has been and continues to be historically constructed, reproduced, and interrogated. We will also pay close attention to the ways in which gender interacts and intersects with other social formations such as class, race, sexuality and nationality. Readings may include but are not limited to: Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford, Henry James’s Daisy Miller, J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, Jamaica Kincaid’s Lucy, the poems by Christina Rossetti and Adrienne Rich. We will also look at texts by authors dealing with contemporary theoretical debates on gender. Class sessions will be discussion-based and focusing on close-readings of the texts. The assignments will likely include three essays and a final take-home exam. Crosslisted with WGS 192-2.
ETS 200-1 Selected Topics: Modern Horror Fiction
Instructor: Steven Doles
In recent decades horror fiction has become a massive genre and industry, with a number of authors such as Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Anne Rice repeatedly topping bestseller lists. While horror has a longer lineage tracing back through the ghost and gothic tales of previous centuries, the horror genre itself developed through publishing and readership practices in the early and mid-twentieth century. Although horror fiction focuses on something as idiosyncratic and personal as what each of us finds scary, the genre is often highly self-aware of its own history, influences, and devices. We will read a number of authors throughout the semester, possibly including (in rough chronological order) Algernon Blackwood, William Hope Hodgson, H.P. Lovecraft, Shirley Jackson, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Joyce Carol Oates, Thomas Ligotti, Caitlín R. Kiernan, and Victor LaValle. To further our understanding of how horror developed as a genre, we will also read major critical statements by Lovecraft, King, and Ligotti, and might also look at small press publications by horror fans, as well as horror on old time radio shows such as Lights Out and Quiet Please.
ETS 215-1 Introductory Poetry Workshop
Instructor: Brooks Haxton
Weekly meetings of this workshop will focus on careful, constructive analysis of student poems, and on supplementary readings of other poetry. Besides writing a new original poem every week, everyone will revise at least four poems on the basis of the workshop response. Reading and writing assignments will be handed out as we go. No prerequisites.
ETS 217-2 Introductory Fiction Workshop
Instructor: Jules Gibbs
This class will introduce students to the fiction workshop. Participants in the workshop will learn how to write a story, how to read closely and how to critique and revise stories. In class we will discuss student work as well as published work from outside the class. We will do in-class writing exercises, and each student will keep a writing notebook.
ETS 242-1 Reading and Interpretation
Instructor: Chris Forster
This course introduces students to the discipline of English and Textual Studies, stressing not what is read but how we read it—and the difference that makes. Its goal, in other words, is not only to show how meanings are created through acts of critical reading but also to demonstrate the consequences of pursuing one mode or method of reading over another. This course is designed to enhance your ability to read and interpret contextually as well as closely, to help you to articulate your understanding effectively and to draw connections through reading and writing. Through close, deep and thoughtful reading of literary and non-literary texts as well as essays by critics and theorists, we will explore the ways texts mean and the ways readers produce meaning. Each section of ETS 242 takes up issues of central concern within contemporary literary and cultural studies. These include representation; authority, textuality, and reading; subjectivity; and culture and history.
ETS 242-2 Reading & Interpretation
Instructor: Silvio Torres-Saillant
This course introduces students to the study of English and Textual Studies as an academic field focusing on reading practices and axes of literary analysis. Students learn that the outcome of the act of reading may change in accordance with the perspective from which a reader approaches a given text. Students become aware of their own a priori critical or theoretical stance and acquire the conceptual tools with which to examine their mode of reading in relation to others prevalent in the field. Students sharpen their skills as readers and interpreters of texts with attention to the constitutive elements of the works they read as well as the contexts that lend them significance. Apart from offering a reasonable sampling of literary criticism and theory from Plato to the 20th century, the course challenges students to read familiar texts such as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Little Prince, and Heart of Darkness through a critically informed prism that differs radically from their reading experience when they first encountered those stories. The course will tackle the reading practices suggested by several critical and theoretical schools of thought, while considering indispensable questions such as literariness, authorial intention as well as authorship, representation, aesthetics, history, culture, and the place of literature in the world.