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West Chester University

Spring 2006 and Fall 2005

West Chester University

Fall 2004and
Spring 2005

Spring 2003

Fall 2002

Spring 2002

Fall 2001

 

 

 

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Course Syllabi and Announcements
  LIT 165 Syllabus
  LIT 165 Announcements and Assignments
  WRT 120 Syllabus
  WRT 120 Announcements and Assignments

Notebook for Topics in Literature: Imaginary Worlds (Spring 2008)
  A Reading of THE TEMPEST

Notebook for Topics in Literature: Rites of Passage (Spring 2006)
  Goals of the Course
  Fundamental Questions about Literature
  Valuing Literature
  Critical Thinking and Reading Literature
  Critical Approaches to Literature
  Literature as ART
  Ambiguity
  Approaching the Art of Fiction
  Defining the Short Story
  Evaluating Short Fiction
  Craft of Fiction: PLOT
  Craft of Fiction: CHARACTER
  Small Group Exercise
  ARABY by James Joyce
  WHERE ARE YOU GOING, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? by Joyce Carol Oates
  Our RITES OF PASSAGE Theme
  A note about GIRL
  POE and the art of STORY OF A HOUR
  THE YELLOW WALLPAPER
  YOUNG MAN ON SIXTH AVENUE
  Notes on Innovative Fiction
  Assignment Sheet for Paper #1
  Fiction and Ambiguity - Your Questions
  Writing Workshop - Short Fiction
  Poetry Journal Project Assignment Sheet
  LITERARY SYNTHESIS PROJECT
  Defining Poetry
  Reading Poetry
  The Craft of Poetry
  Drama and Tragedy
  Study Questions: DEATH OF A SALESMAN

Notebook for Effective Writing I (Spring 2006)
  Paper #4 Assignment Sheet
  Critical Thinking and Commentary
  Casebook: Evaluating Sources Worksheet
  Selecting Information
  Evaluating Arguments
  CASEBOOK PROJECT Assignment Sheet
  Approaching Persuasive Writing
  Topic Development - Profile Essay
  Generating Ideas for the Profile Essay
  Paper #2 Assignment Sheet
  Profile Exercise
  Analyzing THE FIVE BEDROOM, SIX FIGURE ROOTLESS LIFE
  Objective Writing: Selected Readings
  Writing Workshop: Paper #1
  Expressive Writing in the NYTimes
  Writing Effective Introductions and Conclusions
  Paper #1: IDENTITY
  Expressive Writing
  Open Letter Exercise and Examples
  EMERSON on Individuality vs. Conformity
  Literature related to IDENTITY
  Understanding the 'Rhetorical Situation'

Go Exploring
  Weblog for WRT 120
  Writing Assistance on the Web
  Blackboard at WCU
  WCU Homepage
  WCU's Francis Harvey Green Library

Notebook for Topics in Literature: Imaginary Worlds (Fall 2005)
  One Last Look at Imaginary Worlds
  Franz Kafka's BEFORE THE LAW
  Analyzing WAITING FOR GODOT
  Approaching WAITING FOR GODOT
  Paper #3: Assignment Sheet
  Paper #4: Independent Project
  The Problem of Stability in BRAVE NEW WORLD
  UTOPIA/DYSTOPIA Links
  Analyzing Huxley's BRAVE NEW WORLD
  Defining Utopia
  Embarking on Huxley's BRAVE NEW WORLD
  A Reading of Shakespeare's THE TEMPEST
  From today's news (11/3/05)
  Assignment Sheet for Paper #2
  Goodbye to Dante's Imaginary World
  Stepping Through Dante's Inferno: Cantos 10-34
  Stepping Through Dante's Inferno: Cantos 1-10
  INFERNO: Questions/Analysis: Cantos 32-34
  INFERNO: Questions/Analysis: Cantos 18-31
  INFERNO: Questions for Analysis: Cantos 12-17
  INFERNO: Structure
  INFERNO: Questions for Analysis: Cantos 1-5
  INFERNO: Analyzing Canto 1
  Relating to Dante's Inferno
  Approaching Dante's DIVINE COMEDY
  A Little Help with Dante's INFERNO
  Assignment Sheet for Paper #1
  Notes on LEAF BY NIGGLE
  Responses to LEAF BY NIGGLE
  ON FAIRY STORIES: An Essay by Tolkien
  Notes on Axolotl
  Reading Ovid's Tales
  From Myth to Literature: Approaching Ovid's Tales
  Notes on THE EYE OF THE GIANT
  Functions of the Genesis Tales
  Analyzing Mythic Tales
  Defining Mythology
  Filtering the Introduction to FANTASTIC WORLDS
  Commentary on LA BELLE DAME SANS MERCI by Keats
  Commentary on DARKNESS by Byron
  Handout: Imagination Poems Set
  What is Imagination?
  Our Course Theme: Imaginary Worlds
  LIT 165 Assignments: Fall 2005
  LIT 165 Announcements: Fall 2005
  Imaginary Worlds: Course Syllabus

Notebook for Effective Writing I (Fall 2005)
  Paper #4: Independent Thinking/Reading/Writing
  Casebook Preparation Checklist
  Casebook Assignment Schedule
  Evaluating Sources for the Casebook
  Casebook Project Assignment Sheet
  Notes on Rational Argument
  Argument
  Assignment Sheet: Objective Writing
  Reviewing Elements of the Profile Essay
  Writing the Profile Essay
  Readings: Objective Writing
  Assignment Sheet: Expressive Writing
  Rubric for Evaluation of Writing
  About SKIN DEEP
  Emerson on Individuality vs. Conformity
  Mind-map: Identity
  Understanding the 'Rhetorical Situation'
  Assignments Page
  Announcements Page
  WRT 120 Course Syllabus for Fall 2005

ENG Q20: Basic Writing

Go Exploring
  Weblog for WRT 120
  Writing Assistance on the Web
  Blackboard at WCU
  WCU Homepage
  WCU's Francis Harvey Green Library

 

~~ Critical Approaches to Literature ~~

PRINTER FRIENDLY


"A valuable critic is not someone who debunks canonical figures, or who puts writers into their historical context, or, in general, one who propounds new and brilliant theories of interpretation.  A valuable critic, rather, is one who brings forth the philosophy of life latent in major works of art and imagination.  He makes the authorís implicit wisdom explicit, and he offers that wisdom to the judgment of the world."
Mark Edmundson, Why Read?

Standard critical thinking tools, so useful elsewhere, are readily adaptable to the study of literature. Itís possible to analyze, question, interpret, synthesize, and evaluate the literary works you read in the course of pondering, analyzing and discussing them. Literary criticism is the field of study which systematizes this sort of activity, and several critical approaches to literature are possible. Some of the more popular ones, along with their basic tenants, are listed below.  Theses categories are well established and collected, among others, by Michael Meyer in his textbook, The Bedford Introduction to Literature:

FORMALIST CRITICISM

  1. Literature is a form of knowledge with intrinsic elements--style, structure, imagery, tone, genre.
  2. What gives a literary work status as art, or as a great work of art, is how all of its elements work together to create the readerís total experience (thought, feeling, gut reactions, etc.)
  3. The appreciation of literature as an art requires close reading--a careful, step-by-step analysis and explication of the text (the language of the work). An analysis may follow from questions like, how do various elements work together to shape the effect on the reader?
  4. Style and theme influence each other and canít be separated if meaning is to be retained. Itís this interdependence in form and content that makes a text "literary." "Extracting" elements in isolation (theme, character, ploy, setting, etc.) may destroy a readerís aesthetic experience of the whole.
  5. Formalist critics donít deny the historical, political situation of a work, they just believe works of art have the power to transcend by being "organic wholes"--akin to a being with a life of its own.
  6. Formalist criticism is evaluative in that it differentiates great works of art from poor works of art. Other kinds of criticism donít necessarily concern themselves with this distinction.
  7. Formalist criticism is decidedly a "scientific" approach to literary analysis, focusing on "facts amenable to "verification" (evidence in the text).

 BIOGRAPHICAL CRITICISM

  1. Real life experience can help shape (either directly or indirectly) an authorís work.
  2. Understanding an authorís life can help us better understand the work.
  3. Facts from the authorís life are used to help the reader better understand the work; the focus is always on the literary work under investigation.

HISTORICAL CRITICISM

  1. Historical criticism investigates the social, cultural, and intellectual context that produced it. This investigation includes the authorís biography and the social milieu.
  2. Historical criticism often seeks to understand the impact of a work in its day, and it may also explore how meanings change over time.
  3. Historical criticism explores how time and place of creation affect meaning in the work.

PSYCHOLOGICAL CRITICISM

  1. These critics hold the belief that great literature truthfully reflects life and is a realistic representation of human motivation and behavior.
  2. Psychological critics may choose to focus on the creative process of the artist, the artistís motivation or behavior, or analyze fictional charactersí motivations and behaviors.

MYTHOLOGICAL CRITICISM

  1. Mythological criticism studies recurrent universal patterns underlying most literary works (for example, "the heroís journey").
  2. It combines insights from a variety of academic disciplines--anthropology, psychology, history, comparative religion...it concerns itself with demonstrating how the individual imagination shares a common humanity by identifying common symbols, images, plots, etc.
  3. Mythological critics identify "archetypes" (symbols, characters, situations, or images evoking a universal response).

 

MARXIST (SOCIOLOGICAL) CRITICISM

  1. These critics examine literature in its cultural, economic, and political context; they explore the relation between the artist and the society--how might the profession of authorship have affected whatís been written?
  2. It is concerned with the social content of literary works, pursuing such questions as: What cultural, economic or political values does the text implicitly or explicitly promote? What is the role of the audience in shaping whatís been written?
  3. Marxist critics assume that all art is political.
  4. Marxist critics judge a workís "ideology"--giving rise to such terms as "political correctness."

READER-RESPONSE CRITICISM

  1. This type of criticism attempts to describe the internal workings of the readerís mental processes. it recognizes reading as a creative act, a creative process.
  2. No text is self-contained, independent of a readerís interpretive design.
  3. The plurality of readings possible are all explored. Critics study how different readers see the same text differently, and how religious, cultural, and social values affect readings.
  4. Instead of focusing only on the values embedded in the text, this type of criticism studies the values embedded in the reader. Intersections between the two are explored.

DECONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM

  1. Deconstructive critics believe that language doesnít accurately reflect reality because itís an unstable medium; literary texts therefore have no stable meaning.
  2. Deconstructive criticism resembles formalist criticism in its close attention to the text, its close analysis of individual words and images. There the similarity ends, because their aims are in fact opposite. Whereas formalist criticism is interested in "aesthetic wholes" or constructs, deconstructionists aim to demonstrate irreconcilable positionsóthey destruct (or deconstruct)óby  proving the instability of language, its inability to express anything definite.

 

 

 

     

 


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