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ENG 384RW: Criticism

Fall 2014
MW 10:00-11:15
WC Carlos Hall, 212

Professor Chinn
Office: Callaway N314
Office Hours: Monday, 11:15-12:30
Thursday, 12:45-2:00

“Language is not everything. It is only a vital clue to where the self loses its boundaries.”
- Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Just what is literature? Why is literature a discipline that has transcended national and historical
boundaries? English 384, “Criticism,” serves as an introduction to the systematic study of literature
and will prepare you to read and write with careful attention to literature’s theoretical underpinnings.
The first unit of this course will take you through the history of literary theory, starting with Plato on
poetry and ending with Kant on aesthetics. The second unit will bring us to the 20th century. We will
discuss wide-ranging theories brought forth by the Frankfurt School, symbolic logic, deconstruction,
psychoanalysis, and feminist and queer theories. We will end the class with a unit on current theories
in media studies, a burgeoning, international field of study.
Required Texts: Please buy the exact copy with the correct ISBN number:
ŸRoss, Stephen. Art and Its Significance: An Anthology of Aesthetic Theory. ISBN 978-0791418529
ŸAll other texts will be uploaded as pdfs to:
Laptop/ E-Reader policy: I do not allow laptops or E-Readers in the classroom. While we have a
course website and are using Blackboard for the summary component of the class, recent studies
have shown that writing by hand actually improves retention of classroom discussions. Please take
notes by hand. (You’ll thank me after you take your midterm exam!) You’ll have ample opportunity
to use online resources outside the classroom, resources like the Stanford Encyclopedia of
Philosophy, found here: Or the Johns Hopkins Guide to Critical Theory,
found here: The only exception to this rule is when it is your turn
to present the reading. If you like, you may bring in your laptop to show images/ outlines/
Mobile Phone Policy: Absolutely NO mobile phones allowed in class. If I see you looking at
your crotch, I will assume you are looking at your phone and will ask you to leave the
classroom for the day.
Course Objectives:
By the end of this course I expect that you will be able
-To read and annotate theoretical texts carefully.
-To identify overarching arguments.
-To advance compelling interpretations of theories through discussion and writing.
-To analyze theory in relation to historical context.
-To think critically and creatively about literature and literary theory.

Grading Breakdown:
10% Participation in class
5% Annotation
35% Summaries (500 words, twice/week)

20% Midterm Exam
5% Presentation
25% Final Paper

Grading Rubric:
A 94-100
A- 90-93.9

B+ 87-89.9
B 83-86.9
B- 80-82.9

C+ 77-79.9
C 73-76.9
C- 70-72.9

D+ 67-69.9
D 63-66.9
D- 60-62.9

Course Schedule (Subject to Change):
PLEASE NOTE: All readings that are found on the website are password protected. Use
this password to log in to page: 1836
Aug 27: Introduction to the course and expectations
September 3: The Rise of English
Viswanathan, "Currying Favor" [Annotations DUE on Sept. 3]
Sept. 8: The Defense of Poetry
Plato, Republic, Book X, 32-44 (Ross)
September 10: The Defense of Poetry
Aristotle, Poetics, 66-76 (Ross)
Sept. 15: Taste and Judgment
Hume, "Of the Standard of Taste" 78-92 (Ross)
September 17: Taste and Judgment
Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment, 95-111 (Ross)
September 22: Enlightenment and Modernity
Immanuel Kant, "What is Enlightenment?"
September 24: Enlightenment and Modernity
Horkheimer & Adorno, "The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception"
[talk about Marx and Engels, "The Communist Manifesto"]
September 29: Systematic Theory of Art
Susanne Langer, “Feeling and Form” (Ross)
October 1: Technology and the Shape of Art
Walter Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" (Ross)
F.T. Marinetti, “Futurist Painting: Technical Manifesto” (Ross)

October 6: The World, the Text, the Critic
Roland Barthes, “Death of the Author” (website)
October 8: The World, the Text, the Critic
T.S. Eliot, “Tradition and the Individual Talent” (website)
October 13: Fall Break
October 15: Mid-Term Exam
October 20: Deconstruction
Jacques Derrida, “The End of the Book,” Of Grammatology, 6-26 (website)
October 22: Mind and Body
Sigmund Freud, “Introduction to Psycho-Analysis” from Critical Theory (website)
October 27: Mind and Body
Jacques Lacan, “The Mirror Stage” from Ecrits (website)
October 29: Feminism
Helene Cixous, “The Laugh of the Medusa” (website)
November 3: Feminism
Luce Irigaray, “This Sex Which is Not One” (website)
November 5: Race, Class, Difference
Toni Morrison, “Unspeakable” (website)
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “Can the Subaltern Speak?” (website)
November 10: Race, Class, Difference
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “Can the Subaltern Speak?” (website)
November 12: Queer Theory
Judith Butler, Gender Trouble excerpt (website)
November 17: Queer Theory
Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, “Introduction” [from Between Men] (website)
November 19: Media Theory
Frederich Kittler, from “Grammaphone, Film, Typewriter” [Preface and Introduction](website)
December 3: Final Paper Draft and Peer Review
December 8: Media Theory
Vaidyanathan, “Afterword: Critical Information Studies: A bibliographic manifesto” (website)

Further Assistance
Writing Center
The Writing Center is an excellent resource for writers of all skill levels. It offers assistance
with all aspects of writing, including brainstorming, organization, thesis formation, style,
wording, and revision. I strongly encourage each of you to schedule a meeting at the Writing
Center at least once this semester. It is a good idea to secure appointments as far in advance
as possible, especially towards the end of the semester when the Writing Center is busiest.
The Writing Center is located in Callaway North 212. Make an appointment in person, or
call the Writing Center at (404) 727-6451. The Writing Center’s website is
Disability Accommodations
It is the policy of Emory University to make reasonable accommodations for qualified
students with disabilities. These accommodation requests are best made early in the semester
and do not become active until the student presents to the instructor the official support
letter from the ODS. Accommodations are not retroactive.
To contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS):
Telephone: 404-727-9877
Fax: 404-727-1126
Web address: <>
Counseling Center
The Emory Student Counseling Center provides free, confidential counseling for enrolled
students. If you need help with any stress, problem, or crisis, please contact them at (404)
727-7450. The website is at <>

Assignments for ENG 384: Criticism
I want to see how you read! The purpose of this assignment is to assess your ability to annotate a
text in your own hand, which gives me a clear idea as to how you are reading the text. Reading
critical work is not the same as reading a novel. Having a method for taking notes is key to
successfully grappling with the ideas presented in these texts. I want a hard copy of “Currying
Favor” with highlighting, underlining, and any other method that you use to take notes. Print it out
before reading it. I will collect your copy of the text in class on September 3, after our discussion of
the text.
Blog posts (2 per week with a response once per week)
One of the main homework assignments that you will be asked to complete is a summary of the
readings, to be turned into the Blackboard site for this class. This assignment prepares you to be
fluent in reading and writing about dense texts as well as being able to effectively summarize the
day’s reading in less than 350 words.
Here is how it will work:
Part 1: You will write a summary of the text that we read for each class. This summary will be no
less than 200 words and no more than 300 words. Once you have written your summary—which
includes outlining the author’s main argument—you will write 1 to 2 questions that you have about
the text. These questions should be no longer than 100 words. Thus, for each class, you will write a
350-word summary and a 100-words-or-less question(s). Each summary is due by midnight the
night before class the following day. Thus, your summaries will be due by midnight Sunday and
Tuesday nights every week.
Part 2: On top of the two summaries, you will respond to each other’s posts later in the week. You
can respond by attempting to answer another person’s question or you can respond with more
questions about the reading which arose in the class and which we did not have time to discuss. The
purpose of this part of the assignment is to get y’all to discuss the readings amongst yourselves. You
will respond to another person’s post by 5pm on Saturday of the week following discussion.
For example, say we just got done discussing Hume and Kant on the 15th and 17th of September.
You would post your response to someone’s blog post (doesn’t matter which- if you want to talk
more about Hume, then you can post on Hume; if you hated Hume and never want his name
mentioned again, you could post on Kant) by 5pm on Saturday the 20th of September. Please limit
your response to no more than 200 words.
You will be required to do a short presentation of a text on the syllabus. I will pass out the sign-up
sheet on September 3. Your presentation should be no more than 5 minutes and should outline the
main ideas of the text. The purpose of this exercise is to hone oral communication skills as well as
give you a chance to discuss the text as a leader of the day’s reading.

Midterm Exam
The purpose of the midterm exam is to assess your ability to quickly synthesize key terms,
movements, names, and historical context. It will be an in-class exam, so please bring a blue book on
the day of the exam.
Final Paper:
DUE Wednesday, December 17 at 5:30 pm via email
We will have an in-class workshop to work on your final paper, which will be held on
November 17.
I encourage all of you to set up an appointment to speak with me about your final paper and
any external resources you use.
Purpose of Final Paper:
The purpose of the final paper will be:
- to assess your ability to articulate a critical position
- to deepen your knowledge of a school of literary thought
- to synthesize concepts, vocabulary, and structures that run through a school of literary thought
- to display an ability to critique the underlying assumptions embedded in a school of thought
Final paper approaches:
You have a few choices about how you approach the final paper:
-You can write a defense of a particular school of criticism
-You can write a critique of a particular school of criticism
-You can write a survey of recurrent questions on the status of art in society
-You can trace a single word as it has been used through multiple texts (for instance, if you
wanted to trace “the imaginary,” you would want to start with Lacan and run through
Cixous and Irigaray, and, just to add a twist, end with Spivak)
Technical requirements:
-You must use a minimum of 5 secondary sources in addition to the materials on the syllabus.
-Your final paper should be 10 pages in length, in Times New Roman, 12-point font, 1” margins all
-MLA format

Give your essay a distinctive title.

Insert page numbers.

Follow MLA citation style.

Include a Works Cited page.

In your conclusion, don’t just restate your argument. Try to answer the “So what?” or “Why
does this matter?” question.
Carefully proofread for grammar, punctuation, spelling, and usage.
Make an appointment with the Writing Center. They are wonderful people and extremely

Helpful Lit Crit resources as you being to write:

The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Criticism, found online under “Emory Library
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

Helpful writing resources:
-Purdue Online Writing Lab: (they basically have
everything you could ever want for citation styles, grammar, punctuation, etc.)