MH: Literary Theory
Literary theory's central concern is how writing and literature relate to the world. While theory is often accused of being hopelessly esoteric - and, to some, overly academic and elitist - it offers a variety of perspectives, reflections, and ruminations on why writing and literature matter. This course will explore major concepts in literary theory and ask big questions about literature's role in society. Does a work of literature have a stable meaning? Can literature challenge social norms? Are stories universal? We will discuss texts from a variety of time periods and cultures, including readings in cultural studies, Marxism, psychoanalysis, structuralism/post-structuralism, feminism, race studies, post-colonial studies, gender studies, queer theory, and all the "post-" derivations of these areas. Along with the theoretical works, we will look at a few literary texts and discuss how theory can shape what we do as readers and, especially, as writers.