English 102
Introduction to Critical Methods

The following is a syllabus for a class offered at the University of California, Riverside.

Instructor: P. Aaron Potter

Course Description:

             The catalog of courses defines English 102 as the “close analysis of formal features of several genres and an introduction to theoretical and critical approaches.”  But what are literary “genres,” anyway?  What is meant by “theory” and “criticism,” what is the difference between those terms, and why are they important to studies in English?  This course is designed to give you a glimpse of the rich world of literary criticism developed over the last 3,000 years or so, but it is also an introduction to the demands of professional linguistic and literary studies.  Welcome to the discipline.

 Required Texts:

            Beginning Theory, Peter Barry
Supplementary Reader (available at campus copy center)

 Course Requirements:

Students are responsible for arriving in class on-time and prepared, which includes responsibility for all assigned readings on the dates indicated in the schedule. All papers and drafts of papers are due at the beginning of class on the due date indicated. In addition, occasional in-class exercises and quizzes will be assigned, and are factored into the final grade as indicated below. It should be noted that showing up for class on time and prepared is considered *minimally* adequate behavior for a college-level class, and thus merits a *C* grade. Active participation in classroom discussion is essential to earning a higher grade in the participation category.


            Reading Responses #1-3 (1-2 pages each)            -- 15% (5% each)
Mid-Term Examination                                          -- 20%
Final Paper                                                            -- 25%
Final Examination                                                  -- 25%
Participation, Quizzes                                            -- 15%

·        Since this is an intensive Summer Session course, attendance is essential.  Missing a single class is equivalent to missing an entire week of a regular term, and will effect your participation score, and your knowledge of the material.  If you miss two or more classes, I will strongly suggest that you re-take the course.

·        You are responsible for three brief (1-2 page) response essays, outlining your reaction to some aspect of the day’s readings.  The choice of which days’ readings to respond to is entirely up to you.  Response essays are due on the same day as the reading to which they are responding.  They will not be accepted at any other time.  You may argue the merits of the reading or its parts, analyzeor interpret the readings, debate with the authors’ conclusions, or otherwise engage with the material in any way which represents your reaction to the texts.

·        Late papers are automatically graded one full letter grade lower than they would otherwise have merited (an "A" turns into a "B," for example). An additional one-third letter grade is deducted for each additional day (not class day, but every day) that the assignment remains outstanding (that is, from a "B" to a "B-" to a "C+" and so on). If the assignment is as much as a week overdue, then it counts as not being handed in, per the policy above.

·        All essays should be typed and double-spaced, with approximately 1 - 1.5 inch margins on all sides, in a 12 point font (Times New Roman or a similar ‘standard’ font is strongly preferred). College level papers are thoroughly formal documents : spelling and grammar are important components of your writing, and I urge you to proofread carefully! Feel free to use a spell-checker, but don’t let it do your thinking for you.  Please do *not* rely upon your word processor's grammar checking functions -- all of those currently available are worse than useless.  For more information on paper format, see the class web-pages and follow the link to the "style guide."  Papers which are shorter than the required minimum will automatically be given a failing grade.  Please note that one sentence does not constitute a "page" of writing -- the writing should extend at least half-way down the page for it to be counted towards the minimum length requirements. Material from other sources *does not count* towards the minimum page length.

·        This class adheres strictly to the University policy on academic dishonesty.  Please note that any uncited use of material from an outside source, whether direct quotations or essential ideas, constitutes plagiarism.  This includes material you have previously submitted to other classes here or elsewhere, as well as any websites or other sources consulted at any point during the composition process.  Note that it makes absolutely no difference whether you intended to plagiarize material or merely forgot to cite your sources; both cases present other people’s work as though it were your own, and therefore constitute plagiarism under university policy.  Papers which are suspected of being partially or completely plagiarized will be turned over to the Office of Student Conduct, which will determine the appropriate sanctions, up to and including expulsion from the University.

General schedule of readings and discussions:

Monday, 6/23 – Discussion: caveat lector!  Introduction to the course and requirements.  What is literature?  Criticism?  Theory?  Why bother?

Wednesday, 6/25 – Reading: Barry, Beginning Theory, pp. 1-36, 272-8; Aristotle, Poetics; Sydney, An Apology for Poetry; Pope, An Essay on Criticism; Johnson, Rasselas, Preface to Shakespeare; Shakespeare, Hamlet.  Discussion: moralism and literature (didacticism), early formalism and rhetorical analysis, basic plot structures.

Monday, 6/30 – Reading: Wordsworth, Preface to Lyrical Ballads; Coleridge, Biographia Literaria; Shelley, A Defense of Poetry; Coleridge, “Kubla Khan”; Byron, “Lines Inscribed upon a Cup....”  Discussion: Romanticism and the revolutionary aesthetic, pragmatism, expressionism, negative capability.

Wednesday, 7/02 – Reading: Arnold, Culture and Anarchy; James, The Art of Fiction; Wilde, Preface to the Picture of Dorian Gray; Baudelaire, Flowers of Evil, Paris Spleen; Kipling, “If”; Yeats, “Among School Children.”  Discussion: cultural centrism and heteroglossia, aestheticism, mimesis and realism, pragmatic criticism.

Monday, 7/07 – Reading: Freud, Interpretation of Dreams; Jung,  On the Relation of Analytical Psychology to Poetry; Barry’s Beginning Theory, pp. 96-118; Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper”; Yeats, “The Second Coming.”  Discussion: symbolism, archetype, repression, biographical criticism, psychoanalysis.  Mid-Term Exam.

Wednesday, 7/09 – Reading: Eliot, Tradition and the Individual Talent; Ransom, Criticism, Inc.; Propp (handout); Barry’s Beginning Theory, pp. 39-60; Eliot, “Rhapsody on a Windy Evening”; Kafka, “Before the Law.”  Discussion: modernism, intertextuality, new criticism, structuralism, semiotics.

Monday, 7/14 – Reading: Barry, Beginning Theory, pp. 61-94, 172-89; cummings, “Humanity...,” “next to of course god...”; Faulkner, “A Rose for Emily.:  Discussion: post-structuralism, post-modernism, new historicism, cultural literacy, deconstruction, pastiche, simulacrum, personae.

Wednesday, 7/16 – Reading: Barry, Beginning Theory, pp. 121-36, 156-70, 192-201; Levine, “They Feed They Lion.”  Discussion: cultural studies, feminism, gender theory, ethnic studies, post-colonialism, Orientalism, Marxist criticism, ideology.

Monday, 7/21 – Reading: Barry, Beginning Theory, pp. 222-69; Moulthrop, Revolution.  Discussion: narratology, eco-criticism, cyber-criticism, reader-response, author function.

Wednesday, 7/23 – Discussion: theory and English studies today.  Placing yourself in the dialogue.  Wrap-up and Final Exam preparation.

 Friday, 7/25 – Final Examination, 3:30-5:30 p.m.



Critical Schools: