Archive for syllabi

Summer 14 course materials: Introduction to Literary Theory

Posted in Teaching, The Profession with tags , , , , , , , on 25 May 2014 by Ben

This summer, during the June  ‘A’ Term, I will be teaching (for the second time ever), ENGL 2112: Introduction to Literary Theory. You can find the description of my previous stab at it here along with some course documents. This time things will be a bit different, as I am eschewing the “know a few things well” approach that I tried to employ last time even if I am trying not to teach according either to the “canonical theory” or “theory cafeteria” models which seem to prevail in many such courses.

Download the schedule (ENGL_2112_Schedule_2), the syllabus(ENGL_2112_Syllabus), and the daily worksheet assignment (Daily_worksheet_assignment) if you like. Looking them over as you read will be helpful.

So, in what follows I want to explain and perhaps rationalize the schedule and shape of the course. Note that in the last version of the course we read books of theory, D+G’s Kafka book, for example. Here we are using the second edition of The Norton Anthology of Thoery and Criticism as our only text for two reasons. First, cost/efficiency. It’s a spendy book, yes, but it has resale value to students and could be less than five or six university press titles we won’t even be able to finish. Plus, everyone knows where the readings are and what to bring to class every day. The second reason is that by limiting myself to the Norton, just as with limiting myself to post-1980 theory, I am adding a helpful constraint. I don’t have to think about everything. I don’t think of this as being derelict in my duty as I would have to leave things out no matter what, whether I am drawing from ALL of theory or just from the selections in the anthology. I guess I could add another reason, namely that dealing with an anthology offers us a chance to think about the politics of anthologies, a major point of contention in the culture wars of the 1980s. In any case, I know there are drawbacks to the “antho-logical” approach (not the least of which is the appearance of “cafeteria”style theory), but the benefits outweigh the drawbacks in this experiment in course design. (I think. I hope.)

More below the fold.

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Spring 2013 Course: The Nigh Fantastic

Posted in Teaching with tags , , , , , on 7 January 2013 by Ben

Here are the materials for my Spring 2013 course on “The Nigh Fantastic.” This course is part of CU English’s Modern and Contemporary Literature for Non-majors offerings.

I had wanted to teach Cloud Atlas and The City and the City for a while and finally found a way to do so. The premise here is that none of these texts are straight SF or fantasy works (with the possible exception of Oryx and Crake). Rather, all of them make use of SF and fantasy conventions in the service of something else. The City and the City is a work of detective fiction, but the impossibility of the two cities in question and certain technologies present within them push towards fantasy and SF respectively without turning the novel into a full blown generic text. I haven not really thought deeply about the connections among these texts, so I will be interested to see what comes of this class.

The reading list, if you don’t want to click through: Murakami’s The Wind-up Bird Chronicle; Butler’s The Parable of the Talents; Whitehead’s The Intuitionist; Atwood’s Oryx and Crake; Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas; Miéville’s The City and the City; Kunzru’s Gods Without Men. I also considered House of Leaves; The Road; among others that I am now forgetting.

Here are the materials:

ENGL 3660-006 & -009: The Nigh Fantastic Syllabus

ENGL 3660-006 & -009: The Nigh Fantastic Daily Schedule

ENGL 3660-006 & -009: The Nigh Fantastic Text List