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Spring 2012 Undergraduate English Courses: Special Topics

351:201 Introduction to Literature

01  TF2  CAC  75063  SHERIDAN  SC-203

What is literature? What, if anything, sets literature apart from the other texts—newspapers, comic books, murder mysteries and science-fiction—that we read? As Jonathan Culler has pointed out, the very idea of literature as a special category of writing is barely two hundred years old. This course will begin in the nineteenth century to consider the “split” between works that we consider “literary” (Romantic poetry, drama, the prose of Henry James), and position them in relationship to “popular writing” (the penny dreadful, detective fiction, and finally, the comic book or “graphic novel”). Can we apply the same standards of criticism to each category? Can we talk about these works in relationship to one another in any meaningful way? 

Authors may include Percy Shelley, John Keats, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Henry James and Arthur Conan Doyle.  Short critical articles and excerpts may include work by James, Jonathan Culler, Jacques Derrida, and Pierre Bordieu.