As a “gateway” to the English major, and hence a preparation for further study, this course is intended to introduce students to contemporary debates in the interpretation of literary works. It will place literary texts in conversation with critical/theoretical works, paying particular attention to the historical contexts in which both literature and criticism emerge and in which our own discussion of them occurs. The emphasis will be on intensive or close reading rather than extensive reading, and on “exemplary” rather than “representative” texts and issues. We will use our close readings of literary works including William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, John Milton’s Paradise Lost, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land to explore some of the big questions at the heart of the English major: Why is close reading the foundational method of literary study? How and why do we historicize literary works? Does the meaning of a work lie in the text or in the reader? What is the literary canon and how do we decide which works belong in it? What does it mean to deconstruct a text? Course requirements will include midterm and final exams and participation in a discussion section. Students must also enroll in a writing link (English 297).