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OFFICIAL THUMBNAIL COURSE DESCRIPTION
An introduction to several key schools of Continental philosophy
and literary / cultural theory that may be grouped under the rubric
'(Post-)Structuralism.' These will be chosen from
Deconstruction, Dialogism, Foucauldian Discourse Theory, Deleuzean
Theory, Structuralism, Structuralist Marxism, and Structuralist
Psychoanalysis. We will also study Feminist, Post-colonial and
African American thinkers who have engaged with these schools.
The theories explored in this course are called
'(Post-)Structuralist' because they are all informed by, expand upon
and, in some cases, also critique Saussure's philosophy of language, that is, his theory of the way in
which signs produce meaning. This gave rise to a school of thought
called 'Structuralism' (or sometimes 'Semiotics') which exercised an
enormous influence in fields ranging from anthropology to psychology
(so-called 'Structuralist Psychoanalysis')
to sociology ('Structuralist Marxism')
to literary criticism. Structuralism in turn spawned several
'Post-Structuralist' schools of thought which have all explored,
sometimes critically, the various implications of Saussure's
critique of the sign. These schools include: Derridean
Deconstruction, Bakhtinian Dialogism, Foucauldian Discourse Theory
and Deleuzean Theory.
We shall discuss the theories advanced by some
of these schools on some of the following topics:
communication; human nature (body, mind, self); knowledge; society and government
and, especially, literature and related cultural practices. With
regard to the latter, we
shall focus in particular on the following issues: the Audience (the nature of the relationship between the
audience and the literary work), Authorship
(the nature of the relationship between the author
and his / her literary work), Literary Form (the structure and genre of literary works), Literary History / Intertextuality /
Canonicity (the nature of the relationship linking literary works
to each other and their socio-historical context), and
Representation (the nature of the relationship between the
literary work and the world).
We will also compare the views of seminal Feminist, Post-colonial
and African American theorists. To this end, we may pair Derrida's "Différance" with
Cixous' "Sorties" and Hall's "Cultural Identity and Diaspora,"
or Foucault's "Nietzsche, Genealogy, History"
with Butler's Gender Trouble and Said's
Orientalism, for example.
Moreover, through close examination of practical illustrations of these
theories (especially with reference to Post-colonial literatures),
students will be encouraged to apply the paradigms discussed in their own
A pass in
LITS2306 History of Criticism.
Because LITS2306 History of Criticism
provides an indispensable foundation for this course, it is in students’
interest to register for this course only when this prerequisite has been
A pass in
LITS2307 Modern Critical Theory and / or
Critical Theory is also welcome.
Seminar Participation and / or Presentation(s)
and / or Response(s): 10%
Term Paper: 30%
Final Examination: 60% (2 questions in 2 hours)
Please note that, whatever the final mark, students must
pass at least one
question in the final exam to pass any course in Literatures in
English. Failures of this sort are denoted by FE ('Failed Exam') on the grade slip.