Studies in Contemporary Theory - Theory Matters: Culture, Politics & Art

ENGLISH 482S

Why theory? Why do we still read Marxism and Psychoanalysis? Why do they still matter? In many cases, to ask these questions is to also ask: Why literature? At the foundation of much of modern literature is a conversation between authors, artists, and the-orists. These conversations are about: politics, beauty, violence, race, sexuality, and identity. In this course, we will focus on how a broad range of theoretical and literary texts come to inform one another. This approach will allow us to understand important concepts in theoretical language. We will use these models to understand and interpret literature, film, and art. We will gain a basic understanding of Marxism, psychoanalysis, aesthetic theory, critical race theory, and feminism. This course will serve as an introduction to these foundational fields, and we will work together through these texts to define and apply key terms. There will be no final exam in this class. Evaluations will be premised on participation, short writing assignments, and presentations. No prior knowledge of these texts is assumed. Materials may include works by: Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Angela Davis, Walter Benjamin, Diego Rivera, Bertolt Brecht, Amiri Baraka, Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, Saidiya Hartman, and Nathaniel Mackey.

Topics included: psychoanalysis, Marxism, Structuralism, Post- Structuralism, theory of film and the image; theory of race, gender, sexuality, with a concentration on materials since 1950. Satisfies the criticism, theory, methodology (CTM) for English majors. One course.

Curriculum Codes: 

ALP