Literary Theory

Module Leader:
Ágnes Orzóy
2015-2016 Spring
Immersion 1
Arts and Humanities

Literary theory was a major development in the study of literature in the second half of the 20th century. A number of theoretical schools (’frameworks’), informed by philosophy and sociology, emerged, ranging from New Criticism to Marxist, feminist, psychoanalytic and deconstructionist approaches. Rather than looking at them as universal keys that open the doors to any literary text, we will treat these theories as useful tools that help readers gain a deeper understanding of literary texts, by identifying the underlying principles, structural connections, and ideologies inherent in them. We will introduce the tenets of some influential theories (New Criticism, feminist and postcolonial theory, New Historicism) and read texts by critics including M.H. Abrams, Northrop Frye, and Harold Bloom. We will apply the theoretical frameworks discussed to literary texts, and reflect on their benefits and limits. This course is useful for students wishing to specialise in literature, modern languages, philosophy, anthropology and sociology.

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