Course: ENGL 2600Division: Humanities
Department: English & Philosophy
Title: Introduction to Critical Literature / Theory
Semester Approved: Summer 2021
Five-Year Review Semester: Spring 2026
End Semester: Spring 2027
Catalog Description: This course offers an introduction to literary genres, literary criticism, critical interpretation, and research.
Semesters Offered: TBA
Credit/Time Requirement: Credit: 3; Lecture: 3; Lab: 0
Prerequisites: ENGL 2010, can be taken concurrently
Justification: ENGL 2600 is an introduction to the study of literature from critical perspectives. The course will acquaint students with ways to think about and respond to literature from a variety of theoretical approaches. An important component of the course is the use of critical theory in writing about literature. This course provides a solid foundation in the study of literature and is a required English major course at every institution in the state.
General Education Outcomes:
1: A student who completes the GE curriculum has a fundamental knowledge of human cultures and the natural world. Students will be able to explain, on an introductory level, the different varieties of literary criticism. They will demonstrate their understanding through class discussions, in short assignments, and on papers.
2: A student who completes the GE curriculum can read and research effectively within disciplines. Students will read a variety of primary texts and use the content in class discussions and assignments. Students will demonstrate their ability to read closely and critically throughout the course, as discussion questions, writing prompts, and writing assignments are designed to elicit constructive and critical responses (e.g. "How would a feminist critic respond to the fence symbolism in "The Chrysanthemums" by John Steinbeck? How does the history of Puritanism impact "Young Goodman Brown" by Nathaniel Hawthorne?")
3: A student who completes the GE curriculum can draw from multiple disciplines to address complex problems. The study of literary criticism is inherently interidsciplinary because it draws from psychology, sociology, feminist studies, multicultural studies, etc. Students will demonstrate their learning through class discussions, in short assignments, and on papers.
4: A student who completes the GE curriculum can reason analytically, critically, and creatively. Students are asked to critically and analytically examine readings in a variety of contexts. Theoretical approaches will be introduced within their philosophical contexts as well as their cultural and historical moments. Quizzes, writing assignments, examinations, special projects, and class discussions will allow students to demonstrate their ability to apply theoretical concepts to primary literary texts.
5: A student who completes the GE curriculum can communicate effectively through writing and speaking. Students write regularly throughout the semester, demonstrating the validity of various theses in their application of theory. Writing assignments are designed around the collaborative model and incorporate all elements of the writing process. Revision will be a major emphasis of the course, as students will have multiple opportunities to solicit feedback from their peers and the professor and then revise accordingly.
Student Learning Outcomes:
Students will know and understand a variety of critical approaches to literature.
Students will understand the history, fundamental principles, and possible applications of a variety of theoretical perspectives. Through class discussion, writing assignments, exams, and presentations, students will articulate an understanding of the fundamentals of a variety of theoretical approaches.
Students will be able to read and respond to a text from a variety of critical perspectives.
Through the careful reading of literary and theoretical texts, students will be able to use the fundamentals of literary theory to interpret literature. Class discussion, writing assignments, and exams will give students opportunities to demonstrate their ability to interpret a text from multiple perspectives.
Students will know literary terms and their application in discussing literary works.
Through the study of Formalism (New Criticism), students will be able to use the language of literary analysis to interpret literature. Class discussions, exams, and writing assignments will provide students multiple opportunities to demonstrate that they understand literary terminology and can use that language to interpret, analyze, and respond to literary texts.
Students will be able to make close readings of literature.
Students will be able to read, interpret, analyze, and respond to a representative selection of primary literary texts. Reading strategies, journaling, discussion, and exams will allow students to demonstrate an ability to read closely and critically in order to understand, explain, interpret, analyze, and evaluate literary texts.
Through a discussion-based seminar format, students will engage with a community of scholars in order to understand and apply critical theory to literature. With a heavy emphasis on close reading, the course will focus on several of the following theories: Formalism, Moral Criticism, Historical Criticism, Mythic and Archetypal Criticism, Structuralism, Deconstruction, Poststructuralism, Psychoanalytic Criticism, Reader Response Criticism, Rhetorical Criticism, Marxism, Feminism, New Historicism, Cultural Poetics, Multiculturalism, Queer Theory, and Pluralism.
This course contributes to the college's diversity and inclusion efforts both in the literature students read, which will be written by and about a variety of gendered, cultural, economic, racial perspectives, but also in the theoretical lens students use to analyze the literature.
Key Performance Indicators:
Journals, quizzes, discussion questions 10 to 20%
Short papers 20 to 40%
Research paper 20 to 30%
Exams 20 to 30%
Presentation 10 to 20%
Representative Text and/or Supplies:
The texts will vary according to departmental decisions and instructors' wishes. See the following recommended texts:
Kennedy, X.J. and Dana Gioia. Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Current Edition.
Cowles, David. The Critical Experience: Literary Reading, Writing, and Criticism. Current edition.
Hall, Donald E. Literary and Cultural Theory. Current edition.
There are a range of pedagogical concerns for the class. Course content will be delivered through short lectures, class discussions, and writing assignments to ensure an engaged and interactive classroom. Some form of accountability for reading should be established: reading quizzes, discussion boards, bell work, etc. The course should also build to a signature assignment that will allow students to demonstrate their learning related to the HU GE outcomes. Exams can have some focus on recall and content but should also be opportunities for critical thinking and synthesis of concepts across literary texts. The course content must be inclusive, reflecting a variety of different voices, perspectives, and backgrounds, and will endeavor to reflect the value of diversity. Furthermore, students are prepped to engage with the material, their first encounter with the literature occurs outside of the classroom, and class time employs differentiated and inclusive learning techniques, including discussion in varying formats, freewriting and pairing, group discussion, class discussion, group feedback on writing. The professor functions as a guide, asking students to engage with the literature and historical moments as they move from initial impressions to informed analysis, close reading, interpretation, and critical thinking.
Maximum Class Size: 25
Optimum Class Size: 15