Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

Ex 1: Taste and Canon

This is a diagnostic paper -- what we will use as "before" when we get to the end of the semester and reflect. Employing direct quotations from the assigned readings, write a brief essay (following MLA style; 2-3 pages, not counting the Works Cited list) that applies literary criticism to this story.

You should submit it to I will e-mail the class the course ID and password that you should use.

Assume that I have read all the works and that I have them handy; no summary is necessary, and quotations should generally be very brief -- only a few words at a time, woven into your own sentences; not whole paragraphs stitched together with "Another quote that I found interesting is..."

I am definitely not looking for a collection of observations that occurred to you as you read.

Unlike a general survey course, where I woud accept almost any comment you want to make about the week's readings, for this course I am looking for your ability to defend a thesis that applies the week's topic in literary criticism.

Questions such as "Was Melville a feminist?" or "Does symbolism contribute to the effectiveness of 'Benito Cereno'?" are pointless. They are simple yes/no statements, and the author already knew the "right" answer before sitting down to write the actual essay.

A productive thesis statement requires not merely a question, but rather a claim -- a non-obvious statement that takes a stand on a complex issue.

"Melville's feminization of the ethnic other is a reaction against threats to the masculine world of 'Benito Cereno' from uncertainty; yet the utter helplessness of the male characters before the feminized forces of nature exposes the limitations of the masculine world-view."
For the critical exercises, I would much rather that you reach for the stars and occasionally stumble, rather than choose completely safe topics and never stretch your abilities.

Permalink | 31 Jan 2007 | Comments (1)

Aesthetics and Canonicity

What determines the list of works that get studied and written about in English?

Permalink | 1 Feb 2007 | Comments (0)

Eagleton, ''Introduction: What is Literature?''

On E-Reserve. Skim also ''The Rise of English,'' which is part of the same e-reserve file. From Eagleton's book, Literary Theory.

Note that you will need an ID and password to view this file. (Click that link, select Jerz, D and click "Go," then click on the course title. I'll tell you the ID and password in class [Actually, I e-mailed them. -- DGJ], and leave space here for you to write them down.

ID _____________ Password ______________

Permalink | 1 Feb 2007 | Comments (1)