This course is an introduction to literary studies, and it will be divided into two concerns. The first concern addresses the nature of literature. Simply put: What is literature? How is literature and the study of it related to “culture”? By “culture,” do we mean human thought and art of the highest quality, or simply all the views, beliefs, and values of a society? Although the answer to what literature is will remain open-ended, we will nonetheless evoke the question throughout the quarter. At the very least, we will observe that “literature” is never restricted to a singular, conclusive meaning that remains fixed across time. The second concern addresses the question of reading literature. This is where the matter of critical practice comes in: How do we determine what literature “means”? In this course, we will become familiar with prominent critical practices that developed throughout the twentieth century. We will consider structuralism, postcolonialism, and other reading practices. As we’ll see, each practice offers a distinctive way of thinking. The “meaning” of literature is the outcome of the critical reading practices we use to make sense of literary texts. In short, this course will be spent on thinking about various relationships between literature, critical practices, meaning, and the social world.