ENGL 501 A: Textual Theory

Textual Theory & the Arts (w/Comp Lit 551)

Meeting Time: 
MW 1:30pm - 3:20pm
MGH 082A
Raimonda Modiano
Raimonda Modiano

Additional Details:

This seminar is one the four core courses developed by the campus-wide Textual Studies Program. Course credit will count toward the Textual Studies Ph. D. track in all participating departments and is open to all graduate students and advanced undergraduates. Students completing this course will develop basic skills of literary scholarship (the use of literary archives; aspects of physical bibliography and the printing and production of books; scholarly editing; manuscript-based textual criticism) which will be of help for other courses.

The goal of this course is to challenge the assumption that textual theory and practice occupy a domain separate from literary
theory and criticism, and from other disciplines such as art history, architecture, music or film studies. Confronting this territorial fallacy, the course will show that developments in contemporary theory have influenced, and at times radically altered, the direction of textual studies; and conversely, that textual scholars have often anticipated and conceptualized the speculations of theorists in intellectually provocative ways. The first part of the course will familiarize students with major theories of textual criticism and editorial traditions that address the concepts of authorship and authorial intention; the distinction between document, text, work and the physical book; "ideal" texts and transcendental hermeneutics; the relationship of biographical and sociological contexts to texts, and of creators to producers of literature; and the functions of readerships. It will also document contemporary controversies in textual editing (such as the challenge posed by Jerome McGann to established canons of editing), as well as debates about the editing of particular texts in Renaissance (especially Shakespeare), romantic (especially Keats and Mary Shelley) and modern literature (especially Joyce's Ulysses). Students completing this course will learn to scrutinize the texts they are using and develop awareness of the editorial and cultural ideologies that inform them.

The second part of the course will explore the relevance of textual theory to the study of paintings and film adaptations of
literary works (including Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein). The course will involve the participation of librarians and visiting faculty who will offer seminars and lectures on various topics concerned with textual studies. We will also have the privilege of a one week visit by the prestigious art historian Ricardo de Mambro Santos, the author of numerous books and essays on the art of the Italian and Northern Renaissance, translator of art books from Flemish into Italian and from Italian into Portuguese and curator of 16 art exhibits, including one for the University of Washington on Federico Fellini’s drawings in 2003.

Assignments include a final paper on one of the following topics: an essay on a particular aspect of textual theory; a critical
edition reading text (with editorial rationale) of a poem or short story; a review of an existing edition and of controversies surrounding it; the history, transmission and alteration of a given literary or artistic work.

Catalog Description: 
Provides an introduction to the intellectual foundations of textual studies; historical background in disciplines of philosophy and textual criticism, theories of textuality from formalism and New Criticism to poststructuralism, and media-specific analysis; current and emerging concerns in the history of the book, media studies, globally comparative philologies, and digital humanities. Offered: jointly with C LIT 551.
GE Requirements: 
Other Requirements Met: 
Last updated: 
March 16, 2016 - 12:39pm