English 4110/5110 Literary Criticism, Spring 2018

TR 11:00-12:15 p.m., Arts & Sciences 345

In Class Activities

1. Summarizing a Theoretical Article

Theoretical articles are often complex, so, today, let's work in small groups to practice reading and summarizing an article. Divide into four groups and answer some fundamental questions about your group's assigned article.


Here are the groups:

  1. Freud, "Creative Writers and Daydreaming"
  2. Green, I. A text in representation, from "Prologue: The Psycho-Analytic Reading of Tragedy"
  3. Green, II. Towards a psycho-analytic reading, from "Prologue: The Psycho-Analytic Reading of Tragedy"
  4. Green, The trans-narcisstic object, from "Prologue: The Psycho-Analytic Reading of Tragedy"

Here are the questions:

2. Psychoanalyzing The Sound and the Fury

Although William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury is a difficult text to understand due to the stream of consciousness narration of the first two narrators, Benjy and Quentin Compos, it is easy to apply psychoanalytic theory to characters' issues and the novel's form. Therefore, let's determine what happens with the characters first and then interpret the book. Break into four groups and discuss the following issues assigned to your groups:

  1. Benjy Compson
    1. Discuss some key events in Benjy's life.
    2. Do a psychoanalytic character sketch of Benjy, commenting on his desires, his traumas, his relationship with his sister, his relatationship with pleasure, his relationship with reality, and any other psychoanalytic concepts that your group thinks are applicable to understanding his psyche.
  2. Quentin Compson
    1. Discuss some key events in Quentin's life.
    2. Do a psychoanalytic character sketch of Benjy, commenting on his desires, his traumas, his relationship with his sister, his relationship with his father, his id and superego, his conflicted instincts of Eros and Thanatos, his Oedipal complex, his neurosis, and any other psychoanalytic concepts that your group thinks are applicable to understanding his psyche.
  3. Caddy Compson, Caroline Compson (the mother), Jason Compson III (the father)
    1. Discuss some key events in these characters' lives.
    2. Do psychoanalytic character sketches of these characters, commenting on Caddy's desires, her traumas, her relationship with her brothers, her sexuality; on the mother's desires, traumas, neurosis, her relationship with her various children; on the father's world view, Oedipal relationship with Quentin, his attitude toward female sexuality, and any other psychoanalytic concepts that your group thinks are applicable to understanding their psyches.
  4. Benjy's and Quentin's Narrations
    1. Describe Benjy's and Quentin's narration.
    2. What does the narrative style suggest about the conflicts regarding desire and trauma, consciousness and unconsciousness, id, ego, and superego, pleasure and reality, Eros and Thanatos in the form of the book? What does the narrative style suggest about the book's relationship with its readers' "reading" pleasures and desires?

    Article Summary

Written Summary

You will write an article summary and post it to GeorgiaVIEW > Course Work > Assignments > Article Summary on the day before we are scheduled to discuss the article so I have time to read your response before class. The article summary should

Informal Presentation

You will also be responsible for a brief, informal presentation. The presentation should introduce the essay by defining key points and terms (without simply reading your written summary) and broaching issues for class discussion.

Due Dates

  1. Your written assignment will be due in GeorgiaVIEW > Course Work > Assignments > Article Summary two days before we are scheduled to discuss an article. Summaries will be penalized one letter grade for each day, not class period, that they are turned in late. It is your responsibility to check the sign up schedule and complete the assignment on time.
  2. Your brief, informal presentation will be due on the day we discuss the essay in class. This date is approximate for we will sometimes fall a day behind. Failing to present the article to the class without providing a valid absence excuse will result in a two letter grade penalty.
  3. I will return your graded assignment to you in GeorgiaVIEW > Course Work > Assignments > Article Summary approximately one week after we discuss the article in class. Due to GeorgiaVIEW limitations, I am unable to return graded assignments to you unless and until you submit them to the Assignment dropbox.
  4. For example, we are scheduled to discuss Green's "The Psycho-Analytic Reading of Tragedy" on Tuesday, 1-23. Therefore, someone's summary will be due in GeorgiaVIEW on Sunday, 1-21. In class on Tuesday, 1-23, that student will informally present the main ideas of Green's essay. I will return the graded article summary to her the following week in GeorgiaVIEW > Course Work > Assignments > Article Summary. Here's how to calculate your course grade.

Sign Up

Written Due


Oral Due Date



S, 1-21

T, 1-23





S, 1-28

T, 1-30


1 Caroline Oleson

De Laretis

2 Madelyn Rueter

T, 1-30

R, 2-1


3 Bailey Freeman

S, 2-4

T, 2-6

Kristeva ("...Abjection")

4 Thomas Lanthripp


5 Rebekah Garner

T, 2-20

R, 2-22



S, 2-25

T, 2-27


6 Ross Cudmore


7 Kathryn Johnston

T, 2-27

R, 3-1

Sartre, "Why Write?"

G Nicholas Cowles [grad]

S, 3-4

T, 3-6

de Beauvoir

8 Emily Newberry

Kristeva ("...Freedom")

9 Ryan Price

T, 3-6

R, 3-8


10 Megan Ray

S, 4-1

T, 4-3


11 Caroline Karnatz

S, 4-8

T, 4-10


12 Abbi Schelkopf


13 Seth Watson

T, 4-10

R, 4-12

Fish, "Affective Stylistics"

14 Lauren Seymour


15 Erica Garner

S, 4-15

T, 4-17


16 Ashley McGlathery

Fish, "Interpreting/Variorium"

17 Alexis Smith

T, 4-17

R, 4-19


18 Megan Raymond

Applied Interpretation and Presentation

The applied interpretation and presentation assignment has four goals:

  1. the rigorous interpretation of a work of literature applying one of our class's theories,
  2. the focused discussion of psychoanalytic, existential, and/or reader-response theory and interpretation outside of class,
  3. the collaborative process of writing, as opposed to the solitary writing practice we English majors are all so well-used to, and
  4. the formal presentation of the main ideas of the collaborative paper, without simply reading the essay.

Sign up in pairs to analyze a work of literature in a formal 6-8 page paper and formal 8-10 minute presentation. Your essay and presentation should interpret the film according to the general theoretical focus for which you signed up, and it should apply the particular concepts from one or two particular theorists of the critical approach. Your single, collaboratively written essay should be driven by a thesis that argues the work's key theme and issue, from the theoretical perspective being applied. It should be logically organized and use textual evidence to unpark the tension and conflict, significance and theme. Your well-organized presentation should clearly convey your ideas to the class, and each member should speak during the presentation.


Sign Up

Due Date



T, 2-13

Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury

(psychoanalytic focus)



T, 3-13

Chopin, The Awakening

(existential focus)

3 Caroline Karnatz

4 Caroline Olesen

Chopin, The Awakening

(existential and/or psychoanalytic focus)

5 Erica Garner

6 Rebekah Garner

7 Megan Raymond

R, 3-15

Chopin, The Awakening

(psychoanalytic focus)



T, 4-24

Woolf, The Waves

(reader-response focus)

10 Alexis Smith

11 Emily Newberry

Woolf, The Waves

(reader-response focus)

12 Ross Cudmore

13 Ashley McGlathery

R, 4-26

Woolf, The Waves

(psychoanalytic focus)

14 Madelyn Rueter

15 Lauren Seymour

T, 5-1

Bergman, Persona

(reader-response focus)

16 Bailey Freeman

17 Abbi Schelkopf

Bergman, Persona

(existential focus)

18 Megan Ray

19 Seth Watson

R, 5-3

Bergman, Persona

(psychoanalytic focus)

20 Kathryn Johnston

21 Ryan Price


The essay exam tests your understanding of psychoanalysis as well as your ability to employ it in the interpretation of literature. It will be taken in class on Thursday, February 15. There will be two essay questions. In the first essay, you will be asked to explain psychoanalytic theory and literary criticism in general and to compare and contrast to the ideas of two psychoanalytic literary theorists. The second essay question will ask you to demonstrate and practice the psychoanalytic approach to literature on your choice of one of the following:

Your interpretation should apply both general ideas from psychoanalysis and specific methods from one or two particular theorists (though not the same theorists from the first essay). You may bring printouts of the literary works to the exam; but you may not use your textbooks.


Your theory essay will be graded on 1) your ability to balance a broad understanding of the general theory with a healthy amount of specific ideas from particular theorists as well as on 2) your ability to assess similarities and differences between the two specific psychoanalytic theorists.


Your application essay grade will be based on how you interpret the text; in other words, illustrate your understanding of the critical methodologies by making apparent the questions a New Critic and structuralist ask of a text.


If I were to study for this exam, I would 1) create an outline of key terms from psychoanalytic criticism in general and compose their definitions, 2) summarize the method and main ideas of each particular psychoanalytic theorist we've read, and 3) write practice essays using the theorists and terms.

Theoretical Paper


Research Paper



Both undergraduates and graduate students must submit a paper proposal.


Annotated Bibliography and Presentation

Graduates students will research a theorist on the syllabus (Lacan, Kieerkegaard, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Camus, Poulet, Iser), compose an annotated bibliography of 10 scholarly sources explaining the theorist's critical approach, and teach the theorist's work to the class, i.e., lecture and moderate class discussion, with some help from one of the articles on the theorist. One week before the presentation/teaching demonstration, graduate students must meet with the professor to go over their lesson plan. The citations in the annotated bibliography should be formatted to MLA style, and each annotation should be approximately 100 words long.


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Book Review

While the annotated bibliography and presentation require graduate students to research, evaluate, and teach a text, the book review compels you to read and evaluate a book of psychoanalytic, existentialist, or reader-response theory. After consulting with the professor on a suitable book (for instance a book from which our class is reading an excerpt, or another of your choosing, but not a book that your theoretical paper discussed or a theorist that your annotated bibliography researched), write a 8-10 page essay that summarizes the book's overall critical claim and then evaluates the thesis and methodology. Your essay should both appreciate and interrogate the book. The GeorgiaVIEW course packet contains book reviews by Ayers, Henderson, and Schultz; and you can find more examples using GALILEO.