Introduction to Literary Theory

ENG 681 | Fall 2019 | University of Miami

Tuesdays, 3:30 pm - 6:00 pm
Ashe 427

Lindsay Thomas,
Office hours: T 11 am - 12 pm and by appointment
Ashe 307

This seminar combines an introduction to literary theory with a deep dive into particular methods and issues in contemporary cultural criticism. Focusing both on recent developments in contemporary literary and cultural theory and on the histories of these discussions, we will think through what it means, and what it has meant, to read and theorize professionally. We will also pay specific attention to the tools that literary and cultural theory provides for thinking about our present. The first half of the course focuses on a long-standing issue in literary and cultural studies – how we read – including both its contemporary and past articulations. In the second half of the course, we will turn our attention to how this debate plays out in the work of two contemporary theorists: Saidiya Hartman and Lauren Berlant. Each week in the second unit of the course emphasizes a specific constellation of concepts important to the work of these scholars, tracing some of the genealogies of their thinking and highlighting some of their contemporary interlocutors. Along the way, we will discuss the idea that we are now “post-theory”; new criticism and new formalism; the hermeneutics of suspicion; the cultural turn and cultural studies; the “anti-hermeneutic turn”; subjectivity and subjection; fugitivity and aesthetics; queer world building; affect theory; crisis ordinariness; what it means to assemble an archive; and more.