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Master Syllabus

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Administrative Unit: Language and Communications Studies Department
Course Prefix and Number: ENGL 425
Course Title: Literary Theory and Criticism
Number of:
Credit Hours 3
Lecture Hours 3
Lab Hours 0
Catalog Description:

Methods and application of literary and critical theories. Prerequisites: 6.0 or more hours of 300-level or higher English literature courses. Offered Fall.

Prerequisite(s) / Corequisite(s):

6.0 or more hours of 300-level or higher English literature courses. 

Course Rotation for Day Program:

Offered Fall.

Text(s): Most current editions of the following:

Instructors may choose to supplement this anthology with an introductory text such as:

    Beginning Theory (Manchester UP)
    By Peter Barry

Readings should include well-chosen examples of essays that apply distinct critical approaches based in theory to a short literary text that the class reads together. The essays and text may be provided as individual documents, but a critical edition such as the following is recommended:

  • The Dead: Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism (Bedford)
  • Heart of Darkness: Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism (Bedford)
  • The Wife of Bath: Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism (Bedford)

The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism
By Leitch, Vincent B., et al., eds (W.W. Norton)
Course Learning Outcomes
  1. Identify the characteristics and history of major literary and critical theorists, movements, and schools.
  2. Apply critical theory to a literary text.
  3. Write a detailed proposal, including methodology, for a research project to be completed in senior seminar.
  4. Produce an annotated bibliography of critical works in preparation for the senior seminar project.
Major Topics/Skills to be Covered:
  • Approximately half of this course should be devoted to reading and discussion of major critical theories, including but not limited to, The New Criticism, Deconstruction, Psychoanalysis, Marxism, The New Historicism, and Cultural Criticism.
  • A midterm, and a comprehensive final exam that includes questions about the characteristics and history of literary/critical theory, movements, and schools.
  • Emphasis on the importance of historicizing literature
  • Approximately 1/4 of this course should be devoted to practical application of theory to a short literary text.  This is achieved through common reading of the text in question, and through study of a series of diverse essays that discuss and analyze that text.
  • An essay in which students are required to interpret that short literary text through the lens of a literary/critical theorist or school or movement of literary/critical theory.
  • More essays may be assigned.
  • Approximately 1/4 of this course should be devoted to preparation for the production of a detailed research proposal and annotated bibliography including a minimum of five sources for use in senior seminar.  This bibliography should analyze sources according to material learned in ENGL 425. The proposal and bibliography are the culminating components for this course.
  • Because this course represents an upper-level English elective, it bears a distinctive responsibility for teaching advanced knowledge within the discipline. Students must read and write intensively, and they must engage in serious literary study that includes the use of peer-reviewed scholarship.
  • Instructors may be asked to collect information from the assignments specified in the Major Topics/Skills section. This information will be provided to the English program for evaluation.

Recommended maximum class size for this course: 15

Library Resources:

Online databases are available at the Columbia College Stafford Library.  You may access them using your CougarTrack login and password when prompted.

Prepared by: Peter Monacell Date: April 15, 2015
NOTE: The intention of this master course syllabus is to provide an outline of the contents of this course, as specified by the faculty of Columbia College, regardless of who teaches the course, when it is taught, or where it is taught. Faculty members teaching this course for Columbia College are expected to facilitate learning pursuant to the course learning outcomes and cover the subjects listed in the Major Topics/Skills to be Covered section. However, instructors are also encouraged to cover additional topics of interest so long as those topics are relevant to the course's subject. The master syllabus is, therefore, prescriptive in nature but also allows for a diversity of individual approaches to course material.

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