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ENGL 272 • Spring 2017 • 1

Spring 2017
MWF 1-1:50 / MH 113

Dr. Sheila Liming
Office: Merrifield 1B

Course Description

Introduction to

Literary Criticism
Office hours:
MWF 10 am – noon,
and by appointment

“The proper function of a critic,” observes author D.H. Lawrence, “is to save the tale
from the artist who created it.” This course, which is designed to serve as the second part of the
introduction to the English major, explores the dominant ways in which literary critics have,
historically, approached “the tale” in question. These approaches, as we shall see, range from
variations on a theme of appreciation, to investigations of a text’s political messages, to in-depth
examinations of an author and questions about the role of authorship in general. Many of these
approaches are grouped under the heading of “literary theory” and, in this class, we will be
learning about theory, studying how it works, and understanding why literary scholars use it.
Theory and criticism will, therefore, be our guide in this course. We’ll practice
techniques for reading and responding to literary criticism while covering basic concepts and
definitions associated with the practices of critique. Theory and criticism provide writers and
readers alike with a basic, core vocabulary that they can use to talk to each other, and we’ll be
examining that vocabulary in detail in this class. We’ll also practice putting this vocabulary to
use in relation to a number of literary texts, and we’ll be thinking reflexively, considering the
ways in which the books that we already read and the writing that we already produce might be
informed by critical traditions, standards, or expectations.
This class is discussion-oriented and will require active participation in addition to
regular reading and writing assignments.
Course Objectives

To provide students with an introduction to touchstone works of literary criticism and theory.

To familiarize students with the process of reading and writing closely in the immediate context
of such touchstone critical works.

To professionalize and train students for advanced work in literary arts curricula and in linguistic

To impart processes of close reading, close writing, and attentive research as preparation for
advanced coursework in literary or communicational study.

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To encourage students’ development of multimodal thinking in both the consumption and
construction of texts through written assignments and digital projects.

To establish standards for academic discourse and participation through in-class discussion, peer
evaluation, and collaborative assignments.

To model processes of critical thinking and theoretical argumentation.

To communicate the stakes of critical thinking and theoretical argumentation, both with regards
to literary studies and with regards to civic responsibility, social engagement, and cultural

Required Texts
[to be purchased]
McCullers, Carson. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. Mariner: (1947) 2000.
Parker, Robert Dale. How to Interpret Literature, Third Edition. Oxford: 2015.
Additional Texts
[provided by the instructor / available on Blackboard]
Barthes, Roland. “The Death of the Author.” Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, ed.
Leitch. Norton, 2001, pp. 1466-1470.
Brooks, Cleanth. Selections from The Well Wrought Urn. Norton Anthology of Theory and
Criticism, ed. Leitch. Norton, 2001, pp. 1353-1365.
Derrida, Jacques. “Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences.” Criticism:
Major Statements, eds. Kaplan and Anderson. Bedford / St. Martin’s, 2000, pp. 493-510.
Hebdige, Dick. Selections from Subculture: The Meaning of Style. Norton Anthology of Theory
and Criticism, ed. Leitch. Norton, 2001, pp. 2448-2452.
Lacan, Jacques. Selections from “The Mirror Stage as Formative of the Function of I as
Revealed in Psychoanalytic Experience.” Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, ed.
Leitch. Norton, 2001, pp. 1285-90.
Marx, Karl and Engels, Friedrich. Selections from The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts.
Karl Marx: Selected Writings, ed. McLellan. Oxford, 2000, p. 85.
Moore, Jack B. “The Heart is a Timeless Hunter.” Twentieth Century Literature, 11.2 (1965): pp.
Rubin, Louis D., Jr. “Carson McCullers: The Aesthetic of Pain.” Critical Essays on Carson
McCullers, eds. Clark and Friedman. GK Hall, 1996, pp. 111-123.

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Sarton, May. “Pitiful Hunt for Security: Review of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson
McCullers.” Critical Essays on Carson McCullers, eds. Clark and Friedman. GK Hall,
1996, pp. 18-20.
Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. “A Feminist Reading: McCullers’ The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.”
Critical Essays on Carson McCullers, eds. Clark and Friedman. GK Hall, 1996, pp. 129142.
---. Selections from “Can the Subaltern Speak?” Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, ed.
Leitch. Norton, 2001, pp. 1297-2208.
Tompkins, Jane. “Me and My Shadow.” Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, ed. Leitch.
Norton, 2001, pp. 1229-43.
Symons, Julian. “The Lonely Heart: Review of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson
McCullers.” Critical Essays on Carson McCullers, eds. Clark and Friedman. GK Hall,
1996, pp. 21-25.
Williams, Raymond. “Base and Superstructure in Marxist Cultural Theory.” New Left Review,
1.82 (1973): pp. 3-16.
Wright, Richard. “Inner Landscape: Review of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson
McCullers.” Critical Essays on Carson McCullers, eds. Clark and Friedman. GK Hall,
1996, pp. 17-18.
Assignments and Grading
Wiki Entries [10 pts. each]
Assignment I: The Meaning of “Criticism” [20 pts.]
Midterm Assignments:
Assignment II: Introductory Essay [50 pts.]
Assignment III: Trading Card Assignment [25 pts.]
Assignment IV: Review Essay [30 pts.]
Assignment V: Critical Essay [100 pts.]
ALL MAJOR ASSIGNMENTS (I-V) must be submitted in order for a student to receive a
passing grade in this course.
[See Assignment Sheets, included at the end of this syllabus, for additional instructions.]
Course Participation [60 pts., or approximately 15% of your total grade, assessed at both the
midsemester and the final evaluation periods.]

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Course Policies and Procedures
Since this is a small discussion class, attendance is mandatory. You are allowed four absences
without penalty— following your fifth absence, your grade in the class will begin to drop by a
half-a-letter grade per absence (5% of your total grade). Plan ahead if you think you might miss
class for religious holidays or for other scheduled events. I do not distinguish between excused
and unexcused absences. You are allowed four absences – be they excused or unexcused –
before your grade begins to decrease, unless other special arrangements have been made with
me ahead of time.
If you have extenuating circumstances significantly affecting your attendance throughout the
semester (such as an illness or a family emergency), it is your responsibility to notify me about
your situation and obtain authoritative documentation to excuse your absences (either from a
Dean or from your advisor). If you miss more than the allotted days due to your situation, we
will discuss whether it’s prudent for you to continue in the course.
If you miss class, you are responsible to contact your peers for materials and information you’ve
missed. Do not email me asking whether or not there was a daily assignment. Missing a class is
no excuse for not completing the homework. Likewise, I expect you to have read the assigned
readings and to be ready to discuss them, even if you were absent from class the day before.
Finally, you are responsible for keeping track of your own absences. A sign-in sheet will be used
to record and verify daily attendance. You may check in with me at any time to confirm the
numbers of absences you have accrued in the course.
Late Arrival
Arrive on time. You will not receive an A in this class if you do not arrive on time. Lateness not
only disrupts the class but also demonstrates disrespect for your peers and for your instructor.
For every two days you are late to class, you will be marked for one absence. If you are more
than 15 minutes late to class, you will be marked absent for that day.
Class Participation
Since this is a discussion course, it’s important that you participate in class. Participation, which
includes both classroom involvement and physically being in class, makes up roughly 15% of
your total grade. While your class participation grade falls to my discretion, there are several
steps you can take to ensure you achieve a satisfactory grade:

Come to class prepared, with a hard (physical) copy of the required reading.
Since laptop use is prohibited in class, it is essential that you print out and bring a
copy of the required reading to class every day (or, in the case of the NIL,
bring that to class). Failure to do so will result in the loss participation
points; additionally, failure to do so may affect any in-class writing assignments,
quizzes, or exercises that require the text in question.

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Be prepared to participate; plan to participate. You should anticipate contributing
to course discussions on a regular basis. This means that you must both be
prepared (having done the required assignment or reading) and must formulate
and offer contributions to the discussion on a regular basis (at least once a

Be courteous toward your peers. When you raise disagreement in class – either
with the instructor or with your peers – try to do so respectfully. Articulate your
reasons and grounds for disagreement and direct them towards an idea, rather
than a person. Failure to show adequate respect towards your peers or towards
your instructor may result in your being asked to leave the classroom. Such a
request will, in turn, affect my assessment of your class participation, and
possibly your attendance record as well.

Scholastic Honesty, Plagiarism, and Cheating
At the University of North Dakota, we believe in the excellence of our students and in the
integrity of our academic programs. We also believe that your good ideas become better when
you test them against the ideas of others. So for this course, feel free to discuss your ideas about
the major writing assignments with other students. Collaborating on question/answer homework
assignments or open-book quizzes, however, is not acceptable; these types of assignments are
designed for me, your instructor, to monitor how you are handling specific parts of the course
material. Blatantly taking someone else’s words, ideas or concepts, and using them without
citing your source is plagiarism. So is using another student’s essay, or part of his or her essay,
as your own. In the world of writing (academic writing especially), this is a serious crime, and is
treated as such. Anyone who uses non-documented material from another source, including
online sources, will receive a failing grade for the entire course and will be referred to university
administrators for possible further disciplinary action.
These policies are concurrent with the University of North Dakota’s policies regarding scholastic
honesty. For more information about these policies, please refer to the “Scholastic Honesty”
section of the Undergraduate Academic Information materials available online at
All final versions of essay assignments will be submitted to Blackboard, which runs digital
comparisons of submitted assignments in order to identify possible cases of plagiarism. For this
reason, you must submit final versions of papers to Blackboard. You may additionally submit
versions of your assignment through other electronic means (via email, for instance), but if you
fail to submit your paper to Blackboard, it will be treated as late, and lateness penalties will
In this course, we will talk about the differences between plagiarism and the misuse of sources. If
you have any questions regarding the appropriate use of source material (readings, critical
opinions, or supplemental research), please feel free to ask me. In my experience, those students
who plagiarize are also those who feel overwhelmed by the assignment and thus compelled to
use someone else’s work as their own. If you get so frustrated with an assignment that you feel
like your only option is to plagiarize, come see me. My role as a teacher is to help students, not

ENGL 272 • Spring 2017 • 6
to punish them— please use me as a resource to help you write, brainstorm, or work out
assignments and essays.
General Guidelines for Submitting Assignments
All papers submitted in this class – including short, type-written homework responses (“Position
Papers”) – must comply with Modern Language Association (MLA) guidelines and citation
rules. This means that you must provide MLA compliant documentation for the use of additional
sources, including:

a Works Cited page, providing correct bibliographic information for each source
cited, quoted, or consulted in your paper

correct in-text citations for each source cited, quoted, or consulted in your paper

If you are unsure of MLA guidelines, I suggest you either consult or purchase a current
MLA Style Guide, or consult the following online source:
The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University
website à

In addition to proper citation,

All papers, including short response assignments, must be typed, double-spaced, with 1”

All papers completed as homework – including “Position Papers” – must be
digitally submitted via Blackboard, unless otherwise specified. If a paper is not
submitted to Blackboard on time – regardless of whether or not the student has submitted
the paper in another form – it will be treated as late and lateness penalties will apply.

Include page numbers on all assignments longer than one page.

Carefully edit and proofread all texts to eliminate problems in grammar, spelling, and

Digital copies of all final papers must be cleanly edited and readable. This means that
you must remove all digital comments/suggestions, including highlighted or underlined
text, and including all comment balloons.

Spell-check your documents.

Documents that do not meet these and other assignment-specific requirements will not be
graded. Additional, subsequent submissions of assignments that did not originally meet these
criteria will be treated as late submissions.

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All written assignments must be submitted on the due date, and missing the class when the
assignment is due doesn’t mean your assignment isn’t late. Turning in an assignment on time is
part of doing the assignment, and late work will be penalized, regardless of how well it’s
Lateness penalties are as follows:
• Papers and assignments. For every day – that is, every day of the week, and not every
class period – that a paper or homework assignment is due, your final draft will lose two

Midterm and final papers/projects. For every day that a midterm or final paper/project is
late, you will lose five points.

Daily assignments. All late assignments may receive a maximum of half-credit (50%),
regardless of how late they are.

Cell Phones, Laptops, etc.
Students are expected to participate and be engaged in class discussion. Therefore, students are
required to silence or turn off cell phones before coming to class (there is, quite obviously, to be
no text messaging during class). All laptops must remain closed unless you have made prior
arrangements with me and have demonstrated that using a laptop is necessary for your learning.
Campus Resources
Learning Disabilities
If you have a learning disability that could impair your progress in this course, please contact
Disability Services. Students are encouraged to register through Disability Services in order to
receive recommendations for learning accommodations.
Disability Services
McCannel Hall Room 190
We can arrange to accommodate your learning style based on DS recommendations. Please
notify me at the start of the semester if you have specific needs, or if Disability Services has
provided you with a Verification of Needs for Disability Accommodations.
Writing Help
All students are encouraged to take advantage of UND’s Writing Center to receive help in
preparing writing assignments.
To make an appointment or speak with a tutor, visit their website, or the visit the Writing Center

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UND Writing Center
Merrifield Hall Room 12
You can reach me via email, office phone, or a note in my mailbox in Merrifield Hall. The best
way to reach me, of course, is through email – I check it frequently and, while I cannot guarantee
an immediate reply, it is certainly the fastest way to get in touch.
If you have questions about the policies of this class, review the syllabus first, and then make
an appointment to speak with me.

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Course Schedule
Wednesday, January 11

Course introduction; review syllabus; surveys.

Friday, January 13

DUE: Parker, “Introduction” (HIL)
and Assignment I: The Meaning of “Criticism”
(see assignment sheet for details)

Monday, January 16

DUE: Parker, Ch. 2 “New Criticism”

Wednesday, January 18

Brooks, selections from A Well Wrought Urn (1947)
Discuss Brooks and the methods of New Criticism

Friday, January 20

DUE: New Criticism Wiki Entry
Discuss keywords / Wiki entries in class

Monday, January 23

DUE: Parker, Ch. 3 “Structuralism”

Wednesday, January 25

Barthes, selections from “The Death of the Author”
Discuss Barthes and structuralist techniques / objectives

Friday, January 27

DUE: Structuralism Wiki Entry
Discuss keywords / Wiki entries in class

Monday, January 30

DUE: Parker, Ch. 4 “Deconstruction”

Wednesday, February 1

Derrida, selections from “Structure, Sign, and Play”

Friday, February 3

DUE: Deconstruction Wiki Entry
Discuss keywords / Wiki entries in class

Monday, February 6

DUE: Parker, Ch. 5 “Psychoanalysis”

Wednesday, February 8

Lacan, selections from “The Mirror Stage”
Discuss Lacan’s development of Freud’s theories in class

Friday, February 10

DUE: Deconstruction Wiki Entry
Discuss keywords / Wiki entries in class

Monday, February 13

DUE: Parker, Ch. 8 “Marxism”

Wednesday, February 15

Marx and Engels, selections from The Economic and
Philosophic Manuscripts
Williams, selections from “Base and Superstructure in
Marxist Cultural Theory”

ENGL 272 • Spring 2017 • 10
Friday, February 17

DUE: Historical Materialism Wiki Entry
Introduce Assignments II and III

Monday, February 20

NO CLASS: President’s Day

Wednesday, February 22

DUE: Assignment II: Introductory Essay
Be prepared to share your Introductory Essay with the
class, and to use the information and research that you
collected in connection with the next assignment (III).

Friday, February 24

In-class lab time to work on Assignment III (Trading Card
NOTE: For this assignment, we will be working with
large, high-resolution digital files. For this reason, you
will need to have access to either: A) an external mini
hard drive / thumb drive, which you must bring with
you to class, OR B) a personal, cloud-based drive (like
GoogleDrive or Dropbox). Make sure that your cloud
drive is set up and accessible, or that your thumb drive
is configured to work with a Mac computer, before
coming to class, or you won’t be able to save your work!

Monday, February 27

DUE: Midterm / Trading Card Assignment
Submit your finished design to Blackboard before coming
to class; be prepared to share / present your work in class.

Wednesday, March 1

DUE: Parker, “Cultural Studies” (pp. 274-284)
Discuss the relationship between materialism and cultural

Friday, March 3

Hebdige, selections from Subculture: The Meaning of Style

Monday, March 6

DUE: Parker, Ch. 6 “Feminism”

Wednesday, March 8

Tompkins, selections from “Me and My Shadow”

Friday, March 10

DUE: Feminism Wiki Entry

March 13 – 17

NO CLASS: Enjoy your Spring Break!

Monday, March 20

DUE: McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
Discuss McCullers’ novel, focusing on Part I

Wednesday, March 22

Continue to discuss McCullers’ novel, focusing on Part II

ENGL 272 • Spring 2017 • 11

Friday, March 24

NO CLASS: UND Writer’s Conference
DUE: (by 5 pm) UND Writer’s Conference Wiki Entry
* Instead of following the usual steps for preparing a
Wiki “Keyword” Entry, choose any session of the UND
Writer’s Conference, attend it, and post a 250-300 word
response to the conversation / presentation that you
witnessed. What did the speaker(s) primarily talk about?
What were the main issues, arguments, or points of
contention? What was interesting about this discussion?
What was confusing? etc. *

Monday, March 27

DUE: Parker, Ch. 10 “Postcolonial and Race Studies”

Wednesday, March 29

Spivak, selections from “Can the Subaltern Speak?”

Friday, March 30

Discuss how postcolonial / racial critique applies to our
reading of McCullers’ The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
NOTE: you should bring both your Parker text and your
copy of McCullers’ novel with you to class on this day

Monday, April 3

DUE: Reviews of McCullers’ The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

Wednesday, April 5

Continue to discuss reviews of McCullers; discuss
the review as genre (how is it different from a critical

Friday, April 7

DUE: Assignment IV: Review Essay
(see assignment sheet for details)

Monday, April 10

DUE: Moore, “The Heart is a Timeless Hunter” [BB]
Discuss Moore’s essay in class: what critical method does
he appear to be using in his approach to McCullers’ novel?

Wednesday, April 12

DUE: Spivak, “A Feminist Reading: Carson McCullers’
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter”
Discuss Spivak in class: how does she appear to define
“feminist reading” as a method?

Friday, April 14

NO CLASS: Easter Holiday Break

Monday, April 17

NO CLASS: Easter Holiday Break

Wednesday, April 19

DUE: Rubin, “Carson McCullers: The Aesthetic of Pain”

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Discuss Rubin’s methodologies: what critical method is he
using in this essay, and how can you tell?
Friday, April 21

Introduce Assignment V: Critical Essay (Final Paper)
In-class: brainstorm ideas for final paper topics / methods /

Monday, April 24

DUE: Assignment V Pre-Write / Proposal
Prepare a 2-3 pp. proposal that outlines your plans for the
Critical Essay (final paper) Assignment with respect to the
• method: explain (1 paragraph) your methodological
approach. Which method are you using and why? Why is it
appropriate or important to consider McCullers’ novel
through this particular approach?
• thesis: clearly state your working thesis statement. Note
that your thesis should reflect your chosen approach /
methodology (i.e. if you’re using feminist critique, your
thesis should express a gender-based argument; if you’re
using psychoanalysis, your thesis should express an
argument that has to do with subconscious desires,
tendencies, or drives; etc.
• outline: include a paragraph-by-paragraph outline of your
overall paper. You should aim to organize individual
paragraphs of your discussion around “talking points” or
arguments, not around plot points
à Sample Topic Sentence (argumentative):
“Though non-white characters appear to be somewhat
peripheral in McCullers’ novel, the issue of race is
nonetheless central to the story that she is telling.”
à Sample Topic Sentence (plot summary): don’t do this!
“McCullers then goes on to introduce her first non-white
character, Dr. Benedict Mady Copeland.”
• evidence: you should plan to use at least 1-2 additional
sources in your Critical Essay. These sources should be
critical or theoretical (secondary) texts, but they need not
talk about Carson McCullers’ novel specifically. This
means that you can use some of the reviews or essays that
we have reviewed about Carson McCullers, but you can

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also choose from any of the additional texts (including
primary texts, but also including Robert Dale Parker’s
How to Interpret Literature) that we have read this
semester. In your proposal, make a list of quotations /
citations from the additional sources that you plan to use in
your paper.
Wednesday, April 26

In-class: screen Derrida (2002)

Friday, April 28

Discuss Derrida and translating theory / criticism to film
and narrative formats

Monday, May 1

In-class: complete course evaluations

Wednesday, May 3

Last day of class: by now, you will have received feedback
on your final paper pre-writes / proposals. We’ll use in
class time to field questions about the final paper and to
workshop any issues / concerns, so bring your draft
materials (pre-write / proposal, with my feedback) with you
to class.

Wednesday, May 10

DUE: Final Papers (Critical Essays), by 5 pm

Wiki Entries

[10 pts. each]

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Most weeks, students will be required to prepare and post short “keyword” entries to our course
Wiki. Here’s what that process will look like:
Step 1
Step 2
Step 3
Step 4
Step 5
Step 6

Step 7

Log onto our course Blackboard page
Click on the “Course WIKI” tab (left-hand toolbar)
Open our course “Keywords” Wiki
Select the appropriate Wiki page for the critical movement we have been
studying and discussing that week (i.e. New Criticism, Psychoanalysis,
Select “Edit” to add material to the Wiki page you have selected
Identify a keyword from our week’s readings that corresponds or appears
central to the critical movement that we have been studying; make sure
you highlight your keyword in bold at the top of your Wiki entry. You
may not use the same keyword as another student, so if the word you had
in mind has already been taken, you must select another.
Write a 250-300 word (approx.) post that explains what the word you have
selected means, why it seems to be important to the critical movement
we’ve been studying that week, where it appears in the text(s) we have
read, who uses it and how, etc.

NOTE: you must include direct references to the text in the form of
quotations and appropriate in-text citations (page numbers) in your Wiki posts

One of the central concepts or keywords associated with psychoanalytic theory is that of the
“superego.” This term – coined by Sigmund Freud – refers to processes of socialization,
through which a young human being develops an understanding of the morals and codes that
govern his or her society. A person’s internalization of their society’s codes and morals
forms a “superego” (with “super” meaning above, and “ego” meaning I or self) that places
checks on one’s infantile desires (also known as the “id”). The superego, as Parker explains
in his chapter on psychoanalysis, helps to temper the “seething cauldron of basic drives” that
are the domain of the id, though Parker also points out that Freud developed the idea of the
id / superego late in his career and that, today, many critics deem it to be overly simplistic
For class, we read an excerpt from Freud’s “Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria,” in
which Freud interprets his patient Dora’s behavior through the framework of the id and the
superego. Freud concludes that Dora’s manic behaviors are the result of a conflict between
her secret sexual desires and her awareness of a “superego” (or a set of social pressures) that
prevents her from acting on her desires. Freud’s concept of the superego can furthermore be
applied to many works of literature, though, since one common form of conflict that we see
in literature involves an individuals’ struggles against societal rules and standards. This is
more or less the plot, for example, of Kate Chopin’s famous novella The Awakening, in
which the protagonist (Edna Pontelier) leaves her husband for a younger lover but is
eventually scorned by the polite society she inhabits.

Assignment I: The Meaning of “Criticism”

[20 pts.]

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In the course description that is included in this syllabus, I cite the writer D.H. Lawrence.
Lawrence is famous for writing the novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928), among others, and in
the quote that I cite from him, he explains that it is the “function” of literary criticism “to save
the tale from the artist who created it.” This quotation comes from a critical essay that Lawrence
wrote in the early 1920s called “Spirit of Place.” Here it is within the original context of that

Lawrence, D.H. “A Spirit of Place.” Studies in Classic American Literature,
eds. Greenspan, Vasey, and Worthen. Cambridge UP: 2003, pp. 13-21.

But what might Lawrence have meant by this statement? After all, Lawrence was both an artist
(that is, a creative thinker novelist) and a critic (that is, someone who wrote criticism about other
people’s creative works / novels). So why, then, does he argue in favor of a critic’s “saving” the
tale from the person who wrote it?


Your assignment is to write a brief (2-3 pages) reading response that does 3 things:
1) interprets and responds to Lawrence’s statement and
2) connects Lawrence’s claims to those made by Robert Dale Parker in his “Introduction”
to the volume How to Interpret Literature
3) explains how you, personally, define the term “criticism”
In his introduction, Parker defines the term “criticism” in a couple of useful ways. How do those
definitions compare to Lawrence’s statement about the “function” of the critic? What similarities
do you see between these various definitions? How do Parker and Lawrence’s definitions
compare to your own?

Assignment II: Introductory Essay

[50 pts.]


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Most of the “Additional Readings” (a.k.a. primary source materials) that we have covered so far
in this class have been selections taken from anthologies of literary criticism and theory. One of
the best-known anthologies of this kind is the Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism (a new
edition costs about $100, so you can thank me later for not making you purchase it …)
The Norton Anthology is organized by author, and it includes short excerpts from each critic or
theorist’s major works. But before each section of excerpts, the Norton Anthology provides a
substantial, introductory essay outlining the critic’s point of view, his or her major publications,
their educational background, their best-known concepts and arguments, the critical movements
with which they were associated, etc.


For this assignment, you are tasked with writing a similar “Introductory Essay” for one of the
critics or theorists we have studied so far this semester. This can be a figure whose work we
have read closely or a figure mentioned by Robert Dale Parker in his How to Interpret Literature
– the choice is up to you. No matter who you choose, though, you should aim to offer a thorough
overview of the author’s ideas and theories, including a thorough explanations of their major
concepts and arguments.
Your completed Introductory Essay should be 3-4 pages in length, and it should include the

An introductory paragraph that makes a claim about why this person is
important to literary study or to the history of criticism and theory in
general. In this paragraph, you should a) identify the critical movement
with which this person is associated and b) name the major arguments or
ideas for which they are primarily known.

Education /
Personal History

1-2 paragraphs summarizing the author’s educational background and
personal history. Where were they born and where did they grow up?
What was their class background like? What kind of an education did
they receive (public vs. private / formal vs. informal)? What was their
family life like?

Critical Ideas

2-3 paragraphs summarizing the author’s major critical ideas and
arguments. Why is this person famous? What contributions did they offer
to the fields of philosophy, theory, or literary study?
NOTE: if you introduce specific concepts or terms (like Marx’s
“alienation,” or Foucault’s “discourse”), you must offer concrete
definitions of these terms and explain what they mean


A final paragraph (or so) explaining this author’s legacy. How are they
primarily remembered today? Are they still widely read / are their theories
and ideas still widely used? How do you know? What proof do you have?


ENGL 272 • Spring 2017 • 17
Research and Additional Sources:
For this assignment, you should plan on drawing information from the following sources:
- Robert Dale Parker’s How to Interpret Literature
- any primary texts / readings authored by this person that we read for class
- reputable, scholarly sources found on the Internet
- at least one anthology of literary criticism (either the Norton Anthology itself, or a similar

Assignment III: Literary Theory Trading Cards

[25 pts.]

ENGL 272 • Spring 2017 • 18

NOTE: For this assignment, we will be working with large, high-resolution digital files. For
this reason, you will need to have access to either: a) an external mini hard drive / thumb
drive, which you must bring with you to class, or b) a personal, cloud-based drive (like
GoogleDrive or Dropbox). Make sure that your cloud drive is set up and accessible, or that
your thumb drive is configured to work with a Mac computer, before coming to class or
you won’t be able to save your work!
The Introductory Essay Assignment (II) was designed to offer you the chance to garner some
expertise regarding a particular literary critic / theorist. Now that you’ve done that, you likely
have a lot to say about the person that you studied in that assignment. In this assignment, you’ll
be translating that information for the sake of a slightly different audience.



You are assigned with creating a trading card for the literary critic / theorist that you researched
in connection with Assignment II. You’ll be using Photoshop to do this and will be working with
templates. If you have never used Photoshop before, don’t panic: a set of detailed instructions
(below) ought to make that process relatively simple for you.
Sample Trading Card: Michel Foucault



Steps for creating your Trading Card:
Step 1

Log onto our course Blackboard page and access the Photoshop templates
(à Assignments à Assignment III: Trading Card à .psd file attachments)

ENGL 272 • Spring 2017 • 19
Step 2

Open the file called “trading card template A” in Photoshop
You should see a blank template appear on the screen, as well as some editable
text fields (indicated by parenthesis around text)

Step 3

Using the Internet, search for a photo of your critic / theorist and download
it to the desktop of your computer.
After you have downloaded the photo, upload it to the Photoshop template by
selecting à File and then à Place Embedded
The image should appear within the template; use the crosshatch arrows and
indicators to resize the image so that it fits within the template. If your image
is blocking the template, rearrange the order of your image layers using the
Layer Navigation Bar – simply click and drag the template layer so that it
appears at the top of the list of layers.
To finish placing the image, click on another tool and then click “Yes” when
prompted to place it for good.

Step 4

Now add the appropriate badge that signals the “team” (a.k.a. critical movement,
like Post-Structuralism, Psychoanalysis, etc.) with which your critic is associated
On Blackboard, attached to the Assignment III page, you’ll find a folder that
contains the various “badges” as .psd template files
Working within your Photoshop file, go to File à Plate Embedded and then
select the appropriate badge from the badge folder and upload it / add it to your
Photoshop file. Use the crosshatch arrows and indicators to resize the image and
then position it in in the bottom left-hand corner of the image (overlapping the
yellow “name” box – see Foucault example, above).
To finish placing the image, click on another tool and then click “Yes” when
prompted to place it for good.

Step 5

Add your critic’s name to the appropriate text field. In the Layers Navigation Bar,
select the type layer: (name) by double-clicking on the
icon. This should
highlight the text field on the image itself and allow
you to insert your new text.
Side A is now complete! Go to à File à Save As and rename the file / save it to
your thumb drive or personal cloud drive. The file will be too large to save to
your own email, so make sure you have a thumb drive or cloud-based drive
that is accessible to you.

Step 6

Open the file called “trading card template B” in Photoshop
You should see a blank template appear on the screen, as well as some editable
text fields (indicated by parenthesis around text)

ENGL 272 • Spring 2017 • 20
For this “side” of the card, you won’t be required to add any imagery, so all you’ll
need to do is double-click on the
icon for each text layer and enter the
necessary text.
Step 7

Once you have added information to all of the text fields (make sure no
parentheses fields are left inside the template), save your work. Go to à File à
Save As and rename the file / save it to your thumb drive or personal cloud drive.
Once again, the file will be too large to save to your own email, so make sure
you have a thumb drive or cloud-based drive that is accessible to you.

Step 8

Submit your completed work to Blackboard. Under the appropriate assignment
heading, select “View / Complete” and upload both of the completed template
files, which should now be relabeled with your name.

Assignment IV: Review Essay

[30 pts.]

ENGL 272 • Spring 2017 • 21

As we’ve discussed in class, a review essay is not the same as a critical essay. Whereas a critical
essay presents an in-depth analysis of a given text, a review is meant to provide readers with an
introduction to the text itself. As such, a review depends more upon plot summary and the
discussion of a particular writer’s style.
You might compare the two genres by considering the following attributes:


Casual, witty,


evaluation of
writer’s style
Analysis of
choices; focus
on themes,


Evaluative? Audience

To introduce
readers to a
particular text

YES (i.e. x

To argue in
favor of a
of the given

NO (in lieu
of discussion
of good vs.
bad, focus on
what the text

was good, y
was bad)



magazine, etc.


journal or
collection of
essays (book)

For this assignment, you are tasked with writing a review of McCullers’ novel The Heart is a
Lonely Hunter. We have already reviewed some samples of reviews that appeared at the time of
the novel’s publication (1940), but it is up to you to evaluate the novel from a contemporary
standpoint. Imagine that a new edition of the novel has recently been published and you have
been assigned to write a review that a) introduces readers to the main features of the plot and to
McCullers’ writing style and b) discusses the novel’s contemporary relevance (i.e. why should
we read it today? Why is the story that it tells still relevant to our culture and our society, if at


Your review essay should no more than 1200 words (that’s just a little over 2 pages), and it
should be concise, engagingly written, and informative.

Assignment V: Critical Essay

[100 pts.]


ENGL 272 • Spring 2017 • 22

You’ve already written a review of Carson McCullers’ The Heart is a Lonely Hunter so, by now,
you should have a general understanding of the novel’s plot and of the author’s style. This essay
asks you to go beyond these considerations (plot and style) and to develop a critical analysis of
McCullers’ work.


For this assignment, you are tasked with writing an 8-10 page critical essay about Carson
McCullers’ novel.


To do this, you should begin by selecting your method: what critical methodology will you
apply to your analysis of McCullers’ novel? Why does this methodology seem to “work” with
this novel? How does this particular methodology apply to your understanding of McCullers’
novel? Who are the chief figures associated with this methodology (in the history of literary
criticism), and how might you think about applying their work to your reading of McCullers’
Next, consider the critical essays that we’ve already read about McCullers’ The Heart is a
Lonely Hunter. Are you using the same method as any of these critics? If so, how? How might
your use of this particular method differ from theirs? What parts of their analysis do you agree
with? What parts do you disagree with? Do you plan to cite from and refer to any of these essays
in your paper?
Your final essay should draw from 1-3 additional sources (that is, in addition to the text of
McCullers’ novel itself.) These sources should be appropriately cited within the text of the
essay itself, and you should include a Works Cited list that complies MLA 8th Edition style