This course is designed to tackle the two main complaints about theory: one, that it is alienatingly abstract; and two, that theory doesn’t make sense to people outside the English major. How to make theory an extension of self-making, and remove it from the role of merciless taskmaster? And is it possible to communicate theoretical ideas in “plain English”?
The general theme for this quarter is the relationship between self, creativity, fiction, and truth, and using writing to make and examine these connections. All writing assignments will be geared towards practice in working theoretical language into a grammar and syntax that makes sense to you, and understanding the relationship between self and critical practice.
Tentative assigned texts include (in whole and in excerpt): A.O. Scott’s Better Living Through Criticism; Stephen Greenblatt on anecdotality; James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time; Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me; Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous; Ted Chiang’s story The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling; Cathy Park Hong’s Minor Feelings: an Asian American reckoning; and David Shields’ Nobody Hates Trump More Than Trump.