As the title suggests, this course will provide an introduction to the discipline, practice, and methods of literary study. Such a course can never be truly comprehensive, particularly on the quarter system, but you will come away with more than a basic understanding of literary analysis as a professional and research-based activity. What this means in part is that we will consider what it means to “read well” or to “read like a professor.” More specifically, we will study issues of authorship and textuality; semiotics; different reading practices; and some qualities or aspects of the literary (e.g. empathy, allegory, character, tone, genre, interiority, the speculative imagination). As befits our historical moment, we will also spend some time with the inevitable questions: Why? What is the place of literature in our contemporary media and informatic environments? What is the value of a humanities education? Shouldn’t everyone simply do vocational training or major in business or STEM fields? We will conclude the term with a brief overview of the ways in which computational tools and techniques have transformed both creative production and textual analysis, from Cave writing to the iPad.
Note: even if this course did not fulfill the university writing requirement (A), we would necessarily be discussing rhetoric and argumentation. You can then expect the course to focus on reading and writing.
Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves
Mohsin Hamid, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia
Herman Melville, Bartleby, a Scrivener
Manjula Padmanabhan, Harvest
Charles Dickens, Hard Times