Critical Practices (Engl. 302) is the follow-up course to English 202 (formerly known as English 301). While 202 is intended to get students to think about and practice ways of close-reading literary texts, including introducing students to some different theories of reading, English 302 is intended to get students engaged in close-reading, and thinking about, theoretical texts. You will do this engaging and thinking primarily through a series of low-stakes and some higher-stakes writing. In Autumn 2019, this course will study theories of objects and their relationship to literature. “But this is an English course,” you might say to yourselves. “What does an English major have to do with objects?” For one thing, literature necessarily makes use of objects. There’s a famous scarlet letter, a golden bowl, a lighthouse, a French madeleine cookie, and other objects that populate poems, novels, and appear as props in plays. Understanding how literature re-presents (that is, makes figuratively present what is literally absent) the world of things is to understand the trickiness of texts and the profound claims that literature makes on us as readers. Among the issues we will study are Marx’s theory of the commodity, Freud’s theory of the fetish, D.W. Winnicott’s theory of the transitional object, and Bill Brown’s “thing” theory.