Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

Final Exam Slot

There is no final exam, but in case we fall behind please be aware that I may call a make-up class on this date.

Permalink | 10 May 2007 | Comments (0)

Term Paper Peer Review

Even if your paper is not ready, plan to come to class anyway in order to participate in the peer review activities.

Permalink | 3 May 2007 | Comments (0)

The Life, Death, and Afterlife of the Author

Case 1: The dramatist Harold Pinter was once asked what all his plays were about, and he blurted out "The weasel under the cocktail cabinet." He later said he was amused to find that flippant response being analyzed by critics, because "for me the remark [about the weasel] meant precisely nothing."

Which of these quotes from Pinter would be 100% true?

Case 2: T.S. Eliot wrote desperate, disjointed poetry when he was a young man. While his life had its dramatic points (his fist wife died in a mental institution after spending several years there; he never visited her), he had a happy second marriage, enjoyed considerable literary success, and more people today know his work through the musical Cats (which was based upon his lighter poetry).

Permit me to speculate.

Let us imagine that, after spending many decades in comfort, enjoying the respect and admiration of the literary world, Eliot wrote a few lines that dismiss as insignificant the early poetry that he wrote as a desperate and angry 22-year-old. Would those lines be more or less valid than the opinion of an angry 22-year-old of today who finds the same poem life-changing?

Permalink | 8 Feb 2007 | Comments (0)

Aesthetics and Canonicity

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

Permalink | 1 Feb 2007 | Comments (0)

Course Overview

Welcome to EL 312, "Literary Criticism."

The course website is located at I will update the online syllabus periodically, so the printout I gave you is only for your convenience on the first day of classes. The official version of the syllabus is the online version (though I will notify you in advance of any significant changes).

Topics for today:

While the class meets on Thursday, note that preparatory assignments are due by midnight on Monday and 9am 5pm Wednesday, so that we can all come to class on Thursday ready to discuss the week's material. (That means you should probably plan to devote time on the weekends to do the readings.)

Permalink | 25 Jan 2007 | Comments (1)