English 5310, Fall 2008

Seminar: Contemporary Literary Theory

(syllabus available at: http://faculty.smu.edu/dfoster/theory/

 

Dennis Foster

Rm. 1, Dallas Hall

Telephone: x82921

Email: dfoster@smu.edu

Office Hours: 3:30 TT and by appointment

 

Books

Don DeLillo

The Names

 

Sigmund Freud:

Beyond the Pleasure Principle

 

Michele Foucault:

Discipline and Punish

 

Martin Heidegger

Poetry, Language, Thought

 

Henry James

Eight Tales from the Major Phase

 

Plato

Phaedrus

 

Vladimir Nabokov

Lolita

 

Bram Stoker

Dracula (Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism)

 

 

 

 





 

Recommended:       MLA Style Manual

Online texts: see Blackboard course documents

 

Theodor Adorno

“The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception”

Louis Althusser

“Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses”

Alain Badiou

“What is Love?”

Roland Barthes

"The Death of the Author"

Pierre Bourdieu

from Distinction

Jacques Derrida

"Differance"

Jonathan Dollimore

"The Cultural Politics of Perversion:  Augustine, Shakespeare, Freud, Foucault"

Terry Eagleton

"The Rise of English"; "What is Literature"

Sigmund Freud:

"Negation"

GWF Hegel

“The Master-Servant Dialectic”

Recommended: “Self-consciousness and Unhappy Consciousness”

Jacques Lacan

"The Mirror Stage"

Kaja Silverman

"Lost Objects and Mistaken Subjects"

Karl Marx

"The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret Thereof" and  The Communist Manifesto

Slavoj Žižek

"The Truth Arises from Misrecognition"

Ferdinand de Saussure

from "A Course in General Linguistics"




 

 

Tu

8/26

Introduction:  Modes and Motives of Reading

DeLillo, The Names

Eagleton, "The Rise of English"  (Rec: "What is Literature") 

 

Th

8/28

Continue

Tu

9/2

Attend your regular Monday class today

Th

9/4

Metaphysical backgrounds

Plato, Phaedrus

Wordsworth, "Preface to the Lyrical Ballads"; "Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey"

Yeats, "Sailing to Byzantium"

Tu

9/9

Group I commentary: Legacies of Platonic Truth

Th

9/11

No class (I attend Board of Trustees meeting)

Short essay: identifying a problem

Tu

9/16

 Formalisms, Structuralism, Semiotics

Brooks, "The Heresy of Paraphrase" (excerpts)

Poetry: Keats, "Ode on a Grecian Urn"; Stevens, "Snowman";

Donne, "Batter My Heart"; Dickinson, "A spider sewed at night"

Saussure, from Course in General Linguistics

Roland Barthes, "The Death of the Author"

Th

9/18

Continue

Tu

9/23

James, "In the Cage"

Group II: Language—Inside/Outside

Th

9/25

Freud's Masterplot: the drive to repeat

Freud, Beyond the Pleasure Principle

Tu

9/30

James, "The Figure in the Carpet"

Group III: Pleasure/Unpleasure

Th

10/2

Making Meaning: Heidegger and Freud

Heidegger, "The Origin of the Work of Art"

Freud, "Negation"

Group I: Creation, Circles, Time

Tu

10/7

Making Meaning: Derrida

Derrida, "Differance"

Dickinson: THERE’S a certain slant of light
Freud,"The Uncanny"

Group II: Reproduction—Same Difference

Th

10/9

 Continue

Short essay: A demonstration of Meaning

Tu

10/14

Fall Break

Th

10/16

Making meaning: Lacan

Lacan, "The Mirror Stage"

Žižek, "The Truth Arises from Misrecognition"

Group III: When does the Event Occur?

Video? “Memento”; “Betrayal”

Tu

10/21

Nabokov, Lolita

Th

10/23

APCS

Prospectus for project due

Travel to conference: no class

Tu

10/28

Materialism and meaning

Hegel, "The Master-Servant Dialectic"

Th

10/30

Marx, The Communist Manifesto, parts One and Two.

Group I: Meaning v. Ideology

Tu

11/4

Materialism and Meaning II

Foucault: Discipline and Punish: Introduction, Docile Bodies, Panopticism

Video: "Cotton Mary"

Group II:  Subjects and subjection

Th

11/6

 Ideology: Althusser, Adorno, Bourdieu

Marx: "The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret Thereof"

Louis Althusser, “Ideology and the Ideological State Apparatuses”

Tu

11/11

Adorno, “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception”

Pierre Bourdieu, from Distinction

Group III: The cultured world

Th

11/13

 Colonialism, Racism, and the Other

Bram Stoker, Dracula: read essays by Eltis (450) and Foster (483)

Tu

11/18

Essays by Castle (515), Riquelme (559), and Wicke (577)

Th

11/20

Gender and bodies: Feminism, Queer theory

Jonathan Dollimore, "The Cultural Politics of Perversion:  Augustine, Shakespeare, Freud, Foucault"

Kaja Silverman, "Lost Objects and Mistaken Subjects"

Tu

11/25

Essay, Part I due: Critical Casebook     

Wed

11/26

No classes

Th

11/27

Thanksgiving: no classes

Tu

12/2

Against Interpretation: Badiou’s challenge

“What is love?”

Th

12/4

No class (I attend Board of Trustees meeting)

Mon

 12/8

Essay, Part II due

 

 

Short Essays:  In addition to the two-part seminar essay, you will be writing two short essays that I will mark; and four short (500-1000 words) responses to the reading assignments (see “group” assignments). These response writings should be relatively informal discussions of the material that engage some aspect of the reading that you find particularly interesting, troubling, ambiguous, suggestive, etc.  Your job here is not to resolve  a problem ‑‑ to prove a writer right or wrong, for example ‑‑ but to articulate what problems emerge in your reading and why they might exist.  They are not free-form musings.  You could focus, for example, on the terms the writer uses, an apparent contradiction, a departure from expectation or "common sense."  The essays, which I hope will provide one basis for class discussion, will be due at 7:00 pm the day before classes, posted on Blackboard for the entire class.  Each of you who did not write for that should feel free to add to the thread for that day.

 

Seminar Essay:  Part I: The Critical Casebook (due Nov. 25). Part II, Analytic reading (due Dec. 8).  For this project you will pick a particular critical problem in a literary work that has generated critical debate over a significant period of time.  The literary work will probably be a fairly canonical one, that is one that has generated a lot of writing.  For Part I, your task will be to define the problem as a critical problem (one that affects how we understand the work) and provide a general account of why this issue has generated critical commentary.  Then, you will provide a more specific set of examples of that commentary, analyzing at least four different critics who "resolve" the problem differently from one another. For each critic, you will explain how she interprets the issue and why she reads it as she does (i.e., what are the governing critical assumptions and practices?). The representative critics you choose must actually be representative:  that is, they must span a significant period of time and exemplify a significant range of critical approaches: i.e. formalist, feminist, psychoanalytic, Marxist/post-colonial, new historical, etc. Part II of your essay will contain your reading of the text, one that is self-conscious about how you have read it in light of the casebook you wrote. We will discuss this project throughout the semester, but I encourage you to consult with me early and often as you make your decisions.

 

A brief (one page) prospectus will be due Oct. 23.  This prospectus should indicate the literary text you intend to write about and a preliminary sense of your topic—the particular critical problem you intend to investigate, and a preliminary bibliography (I want to see that you have read something about the text you have chosen.)  I encourage you to meet with me as you consider your options and make your initial plans.

 

*  Disability Accommodations:  Students needing academic accommodations for a disability must first contact Ms. Rebecca Marin, Coordinator, Services for Students with Disabilities (214-768-4557) to verify the disability and establish eligibility for accommodations.  They should then schedule an appointment with me to make appropriate arrangements.  (See University Policy No. 2.4.)

 

*  Religious Observance:  Religiously observant students wishing to be absent on holidays that require missing class should notify me in writing at the beginning of the semester, and should discuss with me, in advance, acceptable ways of making up any work missed because of the absence.  (See University Policy No. 1.9.)

 

*  Absences for University Extracurricular Activities:  Students participating in an officially sanctioned, scheduled University extracurricular activity will  be given the opportunity to make up assignments missed as a result of their participation.  It is the responsibility of the student to make arrangements with me prior to any missed classes if you expect to make up the work.  Note: “excused” absences are not free: you are still responsible for the missed work.  (University Undergraduate Catalogue)