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HUSL 6315.001 Critical Theory Since Plato

Thursday 1:00-3:45pm Room JO 4.312

Professor: Dr. Ming Dong Gu

Office: JO4.130 Office Phone: 883-2760 Email:
Office Hours: Tu/Th11: 30-12: 30 or by appointment
Course Description

This course is an introduction to critical and cultural theory of the Western

tradition since its beginning. It is intended for graduate students majoring in arts,
humanities, and literary studies. It is designed as a selective survey rather than an
extensive treatment of a particular theorist, a historical period, movements or schools.
The main objective is to acquaint students with major schools and trends in the historical
development of critical theories and influential theoretical works of major critical
thinkers. It begins with Plato and Aristotle who laid the foundations for Western critical
theory, continues from classical and neo-classical theories through romantic and idealistic
theories to moral and humanistic theories, and then focuses on modern critical and
cultural theories including Marxist, psychoanalytic, structuralist, poststructuralist,
feminist, and postmodern theories. Finally, it turns to very recent developments,
including postcolonial theory, queer theory, and cultural studies. As an introductory
course, the emphasis will be laid on understanding the chosen texts. No prior knowledge
of critical theory is required.

Required Texts:

• Vincent B. Leitch et al, eds., The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism
(New York: Norton, 2001).


This is a seminar rather than a lecture based course. Although each session will
start with a brief lecture, the instructor will not monopolize class time but will use
discussion as the basic way of conducting the course. For discussions to work, everyone
must be prepared before class. That means, everyone must do the reading assignments,
take notes, prepare questions to be raised and discussed in class, and give presentations of
assigned readings. The instructor will play the role of a facilitator and engage in
supplying overviews and explaining key and difficult to understand notions, ideas, and

Student Learning Objectives/Outcomes

The course objectives are reflected in these questions: What is theory? How is it
different from other types of discourse? What is the purpose of theory? Why should we
study it? How should we study it? What are the major schools of theory? Who are the
major expounders of these schools? What are their main ideas? How do they relate to
one’s own field of specializations? At the end of course, a student should have a clear
idea of the above questions, develop a conceptual grounding for his or her field of
learning, and formulate ways of approaching literary and cultural texts.

Course requirements and Grading:

All students are required to attend class regularly, actively participate in
classroom discussions, hand in summaries/reviews of assigned reading, give
presentations on assigned materials, and write a final paper. The term paper may focus on
a theorist, a school of thought, or the application of chosen theoretical approaches to his
or her own field of learning. Midway through the course, each student needs to turn in an
proposal for the final paper (2 pages) outlining the initial ideas, approaches and research
materials for the final paper. The grading is based on the following:
1. Summaries/Reviews 10%
2. Presentations 10%
3. Preliminary proposal at midterm 10%
4. Attendance and Participation in discussion 10%
5. Term paper (18-20 pages) 60%
Total: 100%
Course Schedules:
Week One: "Introduction: Why Theory?"
Course Preliminaries

Week Two “Theory in the Age of Post-Theory”

Vincent Leitch, "Introduction to Theory and Criticism," pp. 1-28. [2001]
Terry Eagleton, from Literary Theory: An Introduction, pp. 2240-2249. [1983]
Gerald Graff, "Taking Cover in Coverage," pp. 2056-2076. [1986]
Barbara Christian, "The Race for Theory," pp. 2255-2266. [1988]
Homi Bhabah, “The Commitment to Theory,” 2377-2397 [1989]

Week Three: "Classical and Neo-Classical Theory"

Plato, Ion; from The Republic; from Phaedrus, pp. 33-85. [5th - 4th B.C.E.]
Aristotle, Poetics; from Rhetoric, pp. 86-120. [4th B.C.E.]
Sir Philip Sidney, "An Apology for Poetry," pp. 323-363. [1580-91; 1595]
Samuel Johnson, The Rambler, No. 4; from Rasselas, Chapter 10; from Preface
to Shakespeare; from Lives of the English Poets, pp. 458-482. [1750-1783]

Week Four: "Romantic and Idealist Theory"

Mary Wollstonecraft, from A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, pp. 582-593.
G. W. F. Hegel, from Phenomenology of Spirit, “The Master-Slave Dialectic,”
from Lectures on Fine Art, from “Introduction,” 626-644 [1807, 1835-38]
William Wordsworth, "Preface to Lyrical Ballads," pp, 645-667. [1799; rev.
Percy Bysshe Shelley, from "A Defence of Poetry," pp. 695-716. [1821; rev.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, from "The American Scholar"; "The Poet," pp. 717-
738. [1837; 1844]

Week Five: “Aesthetic and Hermeneutic Theories”

Immanuel Kant, from Critique of Judgment, 499-535, [1790]
Edmund Burk, from A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the
Sublime and Beautiful,” 536-551 [1757, 1759]
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, from Laocoon, 551-570 [1766]
Friedrich Schleiermacher, from Hermeneutics, from “Outline of the 1819
Lectures,” “The Technical Interpretation,” 610-625 [1819, 1828]

Week Six: "Marxist Theories"

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, (all selections), pp. 759-788. [1845-1890]
Leon Trotsky, from Literature and Revolution, pp. 1002-1016. [1924]
Antonio Gramsci, "The Formation of the Intellectuals," pp. 1135-1143. [1929-
Walter Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,"
pp. 1163-1186. [1936]
Edmund Wilson, "Marxism and Literature," pp. 1240-1254. [1938]
Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, from Dialectic of Enlightenment, pp.
1220-1239. [1947]

Week Seven: "Psychoanalytic Theory"

Sigmund Freud, from The Interpretation of Dreams; "The 'Uncanny'";
"Fetishism," pp. 913-955. [1900-1929]
Carl Gustav Jung, "On the Relation of Analytical Psychology to Poetry," pp.
987-1002. [1922]
Northrop Frye, "The Archetypes of Literature," pp. 1442-1457. [1951]
Jacques Lacan, "Seminar on 'The Purloined Letter,'" pp. 1278-1310. [1949-
"The Purloined Letter" -- Edgar Allan Poe
Laura Mulvey, "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema," pp. 2179-2193.

Week Eight: "Formalisms--Russian and American"

Boris Eichenbaum, from The Theory of the “ Formal Method,” 1058-1087
[1926, 1927]
John Crowe Ransom, “Criticism, Inc.,” 1105-1118 [1938]
Cleanth Brooks, from The Well-wrought Urn, ch. 11, “The Heresy of Paraphrse,”
“The Formalist Critics,” 1350-1371 [1951]
William K. Wimsatt Jr. and Monroe C. Beardsley, “The Intentional fallacy,” “The
Affective Fallacy,” 1371-1403 [1949]

Week Nine: "Structuralism and Semiotics"

Ferdinand de Saussure, "Introduction," pp. 956-977. [1916]
Claude Levi-Strauss, from Tristes Tropiques, pp. 1415-1426. [1955]
Roman Jakobson, from Linguistics and Poetics, From “Two Aspects of Language
and Two Types of Disturnbances,”1254-1269 [1956]
Roland Barthes, from Mythologies; "The Death of the Author," "From Work to
Text," pp. 1457-1475. [1957-1971]
Louis Althusser, "A Letter on Art in Reply to Andre Daspre," from Ideology and
Ideological State Apparatuses, 1476-1509. [1966; 1969]
Tzvetan Todorov, "Structural Analysis of Literature," pp. 2097-2105. [1969]

Week Ten: Spring Break: No Class

Week Eleven: "Poststructuralism, Deconstruction, Postmodernism"

Jacques Derrida, from Of Grammatology; from Dissemination, pp. 1815-1876.
Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, from Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature, from
A Thousand Plateaus, pp. 1593-1609. [1975-1980]
Jean Baudrillard, from The Precession of Simulacra, pp. 1729-1741. [1981]
Jean-François Lyotard, "Defining the Postmodern," pp. 1609-1615. [1986]
Fredric Jameson, "Postmodernism and Consumer Society," pp. 1932-37; 1960-
1974. [1988]

Week Twelve: "Anglo-American Feminist Theory"

Virginia Woolf, from A Room of One's Own, pp. 1017-1029. [1929)
Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, from The Madwoman in the Attic, pp. 2021-
2035. [1979]
Annette Kolodny, "Dancing Through the Minefield: Some Observations on the
Theory, Practice, and Politics of a Feminist Literary Criticism," pp. 2143-2165. [1980]
Jane Tompkins, "Me and My Shadow," pp. 2126-2143. [1987-1989]
Susan Bordo, from Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the
Body, pp. 2360-2376. [1989-1992]

Week Thirteen: "French Feminisms, Gender Studies, and Queer Theory"

Simone de Beauvoir, from The Second Sex, pp. 1403-1414. [1949]
Hélène Cixous, "The Laugh of the Medusa," pp. 2035-2056. [1975-1976)
Monique Wittig, "One Is Not Born a Woman," pp. 2012-2020. [1981]
Bonnie Zimmerman, "What Has Never Been: An Overview of Lesbian Feminist
Literary Criticism," pp. 2338-2359. [1981]
Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, from Between Men; from Epistemology of the Closet,
pp. 2432-2445. [1985; 1990]

Week Fourteen: "New Historicism "

Michel Foucault, "What is an Author?"; from Discipline and Punish; from The
History of Sexuality; from Truth and Power , pp. 1615-1669. [1969-1977]
Stephen Greenblatt, "Introduction" to The Power of Forms in the English
Renaissance, pp. 2250-2254. [1982]
Steven Knapp and Walter Benn Michaels, “Against Theory,” 2458-2475
Hayden White, "The Historical Text as Literary Artifact," pp. 1709-1729.

Week Fifteen: " Post-Colonial Theory"

Frantz Fanon, from The Wretched of the Earth, pp. 1575-1593. [1961]
Barbara Smith, "Toward a Black Feminist Criticism," pp. 2299-2315. [1977]
Edward Said, from Orientalism, pp. 1986-2012. [1978]
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, from A Critique of Postcolonial Reason ["Can the
Subaltern Speak?], pp. 2193-2208. [1983; 1999]
Henry Louis Gates, "Talking Black: Critical Signs of the Times," pp. 2421-
2432. [1988]

Week Sixteen: “Cultural Studies Theory”

Matthew Arnold, "The Function of Criticism at the Present Time"; from Culture
and Anarchy, pp. 802-832. [1864; 1867]
Raymond Williams, from Marxism and Literature, pp. 1565-1575. [1977]
Jurgen Habermas, from The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, “The
Basic Blueprint,” “Modernity—An Incomplete Project,” 1741-1759 [1980]
Stuart Hall, "Culture Studies and Its Theoretical Legacies," pp. 1895-1909.
Dick Hebdige, from Subculture: The Meaning of Style, pp. 2445-2457. [1979]
Donna Haraway, "A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist-
Feminism in the 1980s," pp. 2269-2298. [1985]

May 7 at Noon -- Final Paper Due in my office JO4.130

Course Policies

A student cannot pass this class without attending each session and completing all of the
required work. Absences are excused ONLY with appropriate documentation from a doctor or
other health professional, by an authorized UTD official for school events, or by official policy as
disclosed below.

This course will be conducted according to strict codes of academic honesty. All cases of
plagiarism will be investigated and the deliberate instances reported to the Dean of Students.
Penalties for deliberate cheating may include failing the assignment in question, failing the
course, or suspension and expulsion from the University. Students are expected to know the
University’s policies and procedures on such matters, as well as those governing student
services, conduct, and obligations.

All cell phones, game devices, and other electronic equipment MUST be turned off during

Student Conduct & Discipline

The University of Texas System and The University of Texas at Dallas have rules and regulations
for the orderly and efficient conduct of their business. Each student and student organization is
responsible for knowing the rules and regulations which govern student conduct and activities.
General information on student conduct and discipline is contained in the UTD publication, A to Z
Guide, which is provided to all registered students each academic year.

UTD administers student discipline within the procedures of recognized and established due
process. Procedures are defined and described in the Rules and Regulations, Board of Regents,
The University of Texas System, Part 1, Chapter VI, Section 3, and in Title V, Rules on Student
Services and Activities of the university’s Handbook of Operating Procedures. Copies of these
rules and regulations are available to students in the Office of the Dean of Students, where staff
members are available to assist students in interpreting the rules and regulations (SU 1.602,

A student at the university neither loses the rights nor escapes the responsibilities of citizenship.
He or she is expected to obey federal, state, and local laws as well as the Regents; Rules,
university regulations, and administrative rules. Students are subject to discipline for violating
conduct whether such conduct takes place on or off campus, or whether civil or criminal penalties
are also imposed for such conduct.

Academic Integrity

The faculty expects from its students a high level of responsibility and academic honesty.
Because the value of an academic degree depends upon the absolute integrity of the work done
by the student for that degree, it is imperative that a student demonstrate a high standard of
individual honor in his or her scholastic work.

Scholastic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, statements, acts or omissions related to
applications for enrollment or the award of a degree, and/or the submission as one’s own work or
material that is not one’s own. As a general rule, scholastic dishonesty involves one of the
following acts: cheating, plagiarism, collusion and/or falsifying academic records. Students
suspected of academic dishonesty are subject to disciplinary proceedings.

Plagiarism, especially from the web, from portions of papers for other classes, and from any other
source is unacceptable and will be dealt with under the university’s policy on plagiarism (see
general catalog for details). This course will use the resources of, which searches the
web for possible plagiarism and is over 90% effective.

Email Use

UTD recognizes the value and efficiency of communication between faculty/staff and students
through electronic mail. At the same time, email raises some issues concerning security and the
identity of each individual in an email exchange. The university encourages all official student
email correspondence be sent only to a student’s UTD email address and that faculty and staff
consider email from students official only if it originates from a UTD student account. This allows
the university to maintain a high degree of confidence in the identity of all individual
corresponding and the security of the transmitted information. UTD furnishes each student with a
free email account that is to be used in all communication with university personnel. The
Department of Information Resources at UTD provides a method for students to have their UTD
mail forwarded to other accounts.

Withdrawal from Class

UTD has set deadlines for withdrawal from any college-level courses. These dates and times are
published in that semester's course catalog. Administration procedures must be followed. It is the
student's responsibility to handle withdrawal requirements from any class. In other words, I
cannot drop or withdraw any student. You must do the proper paperwork to ensure that you will
not receive a final grade of "F" in a course if you choose not to attend the class once you are

Student Grievance Procedures

Procedures for student grievances are found in Title V, Rules on Student Services and Activities,
of the university’s Handbook of Operating Procedures.

In attempting to resolve any student grievance regarding grades, evaluations, or other fulfillments
of academic responsibility, it is the obligation of the student first to make a serious effort to
resolve the matter with the instructor, supervisor, administrator, or committee with whom the
grievance originates (hereafter called “the respondent”). Individual faculty members retain
primary responsibility for assigning grades and evaluations. If the matter cannot be resolved at
that level, the grievance must be submitted in writing to the respondent with a copy of the
respondent’s School Dean. If the matter is not resolved by the written response provided by the
respondent, the student may submit a written appeal to the School Dean. If the grievance is not
resolved by the School Dean’s decision, the student may make a written appeal to the Dean of
Graduate or Undergraduate Education, and the deal will appoint and convene an Academic
Appeals Panel. The decision of the Academic Appeals Panel is final. The results of the
academic appeals process will be distributed to all involved parties.

Copies of these rules and regulations are available to students in the Office of the Dean of
Students, where staff members are available to assist students in interpreting the rules and

Incomplete Grade Policy

As per UTD policy, incomplete grades will be granted only for work unavoidably missed at the
semester’s end and only if 70% of the course work has been completed. An incomplete grade
must be resolved within eight (8) weeks from the first day of the subsequent long semester. If the
required work to complete the course and to remove the incomplete grade is not submitted by the
specified deadline, the incomplete grade is changed automatically to a grade of F.

Disability Services

The goal of Disability Services is to provide students with disabilities educational opportunities
equal to those of their non-disabled peers. Disability Services is located in room 1.610 in the
Student Union. Office hours are Monday and Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Tuesday and
Wednesday, 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; and Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The contact information for the Office of Disability Services is: The University of Texas at Dallas,
SU 22
PO Box 830688. Richardson, Texas 75083-0688. (972) 883-2098 (voice or TTY)

Essentially, the law requires that colleges and universities make those reasonable adjustments
necessary to eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability. For example, it may be necessary
to remove classroom prohibitions against tape recorders or animals (in the case of dog guides)
for students who are blind. Occasionally an assignment requirement may be substituted (for
example, a research paper versus an oral presentation for a student who is hearing impaired).
Classes enrolled students with mobility impairments may have to be rescheduled in accessible
facilities. The college or university may need to provide special services such as registration,
note-taking, or mobility assistance.

It is the student’s responsibility to notify his or her professors of the need for such an
accommodation. Disability Services provides students with letters to present to faculty members
to verify that the student has a disability and needs accommodations. Individuals requiring
special accommodation should contact the professor after class or during office hours.
Religious Holy Days

UTD will excuse a student from class or other required activities for the travel to and observance
of a religious holy day for a religion whose places of worship are exempt from property tax under
Section 11.20, Tax Code, Texas Code Annotated.

The student is encouraged to notify the instructor or activity sponsor as soon as possible
regarding the absence, preferably in advance of the assignment. The student, so excused, will
be allowed to take the exam or complete the assignment within a reasonable time after the
absence: a period equal to the length of the absence, up to a maximum of one week. A student
who notifies the instructor and completes any missed exam or assignment may not be penalized
for the absence. A student who fails to complete the exam or assignment within the prescribed
period may receive a failing grade for that exam or assignment.

If a student or an instructor disagrees about the nature of the absence [i.e., for the purpose of
observing a religious holy day] or if there is similar disagreement about whether the student has
been given a reasonable time to complete any missed assignments or examinations, either the
student or the instructor may request a ruling from the chief executive officer of the institution, or
his or her designee. The chief executive officer or designee must take into account the legislative
intent of TEC 51.911(b), and the student and instructor will abide by the decision of the chief
executive officer or designee.

These descriptions and timelines are subject to change at the discretion of the