Literary theory is something of a misnomer, store since very little of it directly pertains to the question of the literary or even to what we call literature more broadly. Instead, viagra sale it takes as its subject matter all cultural production, whether books, paintings, plays, television shows, films, music, clothing styles, slang, commercials, post-cards, (apparently) simple objects, social media, the Internet, and so forth. The theories we will cover in this class pertain to the assumptions that underlie our encounters with all these sorts of things, and with the assumptions that drive their production in the first place. There is no innocent or surface reading, no unbiased or disinterested encounter with an object in the world, least of all a made object such as a novel, play, or poem.

We will take up the question of whether the author’s intention has any bearing on how we read a poem, along with all the assumptions that attend such a simple query: can we trust the author? How is meaning constructed or produced? What role is played by the reader? What about cultural factors such as race, class, gender, sexuality, and so forth? Does a text even exist prior to or after the moment in which it is read? Or is it like a dance, only existing while someone performs it? And what of your self – is it, too, just a performance? We will also take up questions deriving more directly from Continental Philosophy, dating back at least to Immanuel Kant and including as their key influences G. W. F. Hegel, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, and others. These questions involve considering various theories of how subjectivity (your sense of self) is produced or arrived at, how ideology plays into our everyday lives, the nature of language itself, what laws govern representation, etc. Along the way, we will entertain large notions such as the (post-)human, language, reality, the self, the other, and wisdom.

The course will begin with the basic theoretical statements that undergird virtually all literary and critical theory in the latter half of the last century: those of Ferdinand de Saussure, Sigmund Freud, Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan. Following this introduction, we will move through a range of more or less contemporaneous theoretical paradigms including feminism and queer theory, Marxism, deconstruction, psychoanalysis, postcolonialism, and posthumanism. Obviously, we will not have time to explore all of these in detail – the class itself will serve mostly as a springboard for your own exploration in your term paper of those issues and approaches which interest you most. Consider this the “tapas” course that will get you started. The course will be reading and content heavy; theory repays intense effort and you will get precisely as much out of this class as you are willing to put into it. Prepare to have your mind blown.


Lane, Richard. Global Literary Theory: An Anthology. New York: Routledge, 2013. (required).