English 202: Introduction to the study of English Language and Literature
As a “gateway” to the English major, 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 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, John Milton’s Paradise Lost, and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to explore some of the big questions at the heart of the English major: Why is close reading the foundational method of literary study? Do we need to know about an author’s life in order to understand his or writing? Does the meaning of a work lie in the text or in the reader? How might the work’s meaning change if we consider the social context in which it was written? 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.