English 4110/5110: Literary Criticism, Spring 2009

Section 01 (CRN 21433/21434): TR 3:30-4:45PM, Arts & Sciences 338


Professor: Dr. Alex E. Blazer

Phone: 478.445.0964

Office: Arts & Sciences 330


Office Hours: MW 2:30-3:20PM,

TR 1:00-1:50PM and by appt



Course Description


The undergraduate course catalog describes English 4110 as "A study of literary criticism from Aristotle to the present, with particular emphasis on recent applications of contemporary theories." This course's Academic Assessment page describes our topics:

as well as course outcomes:

While classical criticism sought to defend subjective literature against philosophy and explain both aesthetic creation and judgment, twentieth-century literary interpretation took on a level of analysis beyond simply discussing the author's intent. New Criticism formalized and codified interpretation, and the movements that came after it further systematized such methods, with an additional self-conscious understanding of the critic's position with regard to the text. At the beginning of the new century, not only does the critic interpret literature, but she also theorizes the acts of reading, writing, and (making) meaning. This course surveys the transformation from criticism to theory as it introduces various methods of interpretation from the twentieth century, including psychoanalytic criticism, Marxist criticism, feminist criticism, deconstruction, and New Historicism. For each theory, we will read and discuss 1) an overview of the method in Critical Theory Today, 2) a number of theoretical articles in Criticism: The Major Statements, and 3) exemplary criticism on Jane Eyre (novel), "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" (poetry), The Great Gatsby (novel), and Hamlet (play). Undergraduate assignments include a criticism journal on a work of literature of your choosing, two article summaries with accompanying presentations, and two take-home exams which review and debate the theories as well as apply the theories to works of literature not covered in the course. Graduate students taking this course, in addition to completing the exams, will also formally present an article and lead class discussion as well as write a seminar paper. The dual aims of this course are 1) to learn the main currents in critical theory today and 2) to apply those theories in your own interpretive work. I will guide class discussion, present concepts and modes of analysis, and assess assignments. I expect you to read and study the material, attend and participate in class regularly, turn assignments in on time, and approach assignments with intellectual curiosity, educational investment, and academic honesty. Note that this undergraduate course's prerequisite is ENGL 2110 or IDST 2305.


Course Materials


required (GCSU Bookstore or

Brontë, Jane Eyre, Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism

Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism

Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Gibaldi, MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 6th ed.

Kaplan and Anderson, eds., Criticism: The Major Statements, 4th ed.

Shakespeare, Hamlet, Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism

Tyson, Critical Theory Today, 2nd ed.

required (online)

various stories and articles

recommended (GCSU Bookstore or

Gibaldi, MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 6th ed. (7th ed. forthcoming in April)


Assignments and Grade Distribution


4110 Undergraduate Students

one criticism journal, 10%

You will keep a criticism journal that practices each of the five main critical approaches on one work of literature of your choice.

two article summaries and presentations, 5% each

You will summarize on GeorgiaVIEW and then informally present to the class two essays, one theoretical and one interpretive.

two take-home exams, 30% each

You will take two take-home essay exams, which will require you to review, debate, and apply four of the theoretical methodologies.

one final paper, 20%

You will write a 6-8 page final paper applying one theorist to a work of literature of your choice.


5110 Graduate Students

one criticism journal, 10%

You will keep a criticism journal that practices each of the five main critical approaches on one work of literature of your choice.

one presentation, 10%

You will lead the class through an explanation and discussion of one of the theoretical articles.

two take-home exams, 25%

You will take two take-home essay exams, which will require you to review, debate, and apply four of the theoretical methodologies

one seminar paper, 30%

You will research and write a 12-15 page seminar paper worthy of being submitted to a conference.


Course Policies


Class Preparation and Participation

I expect you to come to class having read, annotated, and reviewed the assigned reading. Moreover, you should prepare at least two comments and two questions. We're going to be working with challenging texts; therefore, we'll all benefit from sharing our ideas and questions. If I feel that you're not participating because you're not keeping up with the reading, I will give a pop quiz.

Office Hours and Professor Email

I encourage you to stop by my office hours to discuss any aspect of the course, literature, or life. I'm happy to answer minor questions such as due dates over email, but I prefer face-to-face conversations for more substantive topics like papers and exams. Please use email etiquette.

GeorgiaVIEW, TurnItIn, and Student Email

We will be using GeorgiaVIEW and for assignments and GCSU email for class communication. It is your responsibility to learn GeorgiaView as well as to check your university email for possible course related messages.

MLA Style

Formal assignments should adhere to the Modern Language Association (MLA) style. Formal papers and take-home exams require MLA style while in-class exams; discussion board responses, informal writing, and peer review may be informally formatted. One-third of a letter grade will be deducted from a formal paper or take-home exam for problems in each of the following three categories, for a possible one letter grade deduction total: 1) header, heading, and title, 2) margins, font, and line-spacing, and 3) quotation and citation format. Before you turn in a formal paper, make sure your work follows MLA style by using the checklist on the MLA style handout. I encourage students to use my MS Word template.


There will be a one letter final grade deduction for every absence beyond three days. Therefore, missing four class periods will result in a one letter final grade deduction and missing seven classes will result in automatic failure of the course. I suggest you use your three days both cautiously and wisely; and make sure you sign the attendance sheets. Habitual tardies, consistently leaving class early, texting, and surfing the internet will be treated as absences. Excuses like work, family, and scheduled doctor's appointments will be declined. The only acceptable excuses are death in one's immediate family and one's own medical emergency. If you participate in an extracurricular activity that you anticipate will cause you to miss class, I suggest you switch sections now. You can check your attendance online by looking for your course number and the last four digits of your student identification number.

Late Assignments

There will be a one letter assignment grade deduction per day (not class period) for any assignment that is turned in late. I sparingly give short extensions if you request one for a valid need; however you must make the request at least one day before the assignment is due. I will inform you via email if I cannot open an electronically submitted assignment; however, your assignment will be considered late until you submit it in a file I can open. I neither read nor grade assignments that are turned in more than five days late for whatever reason, be it extension or computer error. Failing to submit (or resubmit) an assignment that is worth 15% or more of the course grade within five days (not class periods) of its due date will result in automatic failure of the course. Failing to submit (or resubmit) a final exam or final paper within two days of its due date will result in automatic failure of the course.


Do not do it. The Honor Code defines plagiarism as "presenting as one's own work the words or ideas of an author or fellow student. Students should document quotes through quotation marks and footnotes or other accepted citation methods. Ignorance of these rules concerning plagiarism is not an excuse. When in doubt, students should seek clarification from the professor who made the assignment." Section 3.01 of the Academic Affairs Handbook elaborates other examples of academic dishonesty and outlines disciplinary procedures and appeals for academic misconduct. As plagiarism is not tolerated at GCSU, any student found guilty of willful plagiarism will fail the assignment and the course. Students must submit all formal papers to

Failure of the Course

There are three ways to fail the course: 1) failing to regularly attend class, 2) plagiarizing, 3) failing an assignment that is worth 15% or more of the course grade, be it from poor quality, lateness of submission, or a combination of poor quality and lateness. By contrast, students who regularly attend class, complete their work with academic integrity, and submit assignments on time will pass the course.


The last day to add a course is January 14. The last day to drop a course without fee penalty is January 16. The last day to withdraw without academic penalty (unless previously assigned an F by professor for absences) is March 9.

Disability Services

In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and GCSU's Policy For Students with Disabilities that Affect Learning, if there is a student in this class who has a disability that may affect her learning and progress, please meet with me so we can discuss your particular needs. Notification will be kept confidential. Students with disabilities should also contact Mike Chambers, or 445-5931, at Disability Services in Maxwell Student Union 133.

The Writing Center

The Writing Center is a free service available to all members of the university community. Consultants assist writers in the writing process, from conception and organization of compositions to revision to documentation of research. Located in Lanier Hall 209, the Center is open Monday through Friday. Call 445-3370 or email for more information.

Special Notice to Students in the Arts & Sciences Building

In the event of a fire alarm signal students should exit the building in a quick and orderly manner through the nearest hallway exit.  First and Second floor classes should exit through ground level exits; Third floor classes through nearest stairwell to a ground level exit.  Do not use elevator.  Third floor stairwells are areas where disabled people may communicate with rescue workers.  Be familiar with the floorplan and exits of this building.


Course Schedule


This schedule is subject to change, so check back in class and online for possible revisions.


Week 1
T, 1-13


R, 1-15

Classical Criticism

Theory: Plato, The Republic: Book X and from The Ion (Kaplan and Anderson 1-17)

Theory: Aristotle, The Poetics (Kaplan and Anderson 18-47)

Week 2
T, 1-20

Theory: Longinus, "On the Sublime" (Kaplan and Anderson 47-83)

Theory: Sidney, "An Apology for Poetry" (Kaplan and Anderson 101-35)

R, 1-22

Theory: Pope, "An Essay on Criticism" (Kaplan and Anderson 182-99)

Theory: Kant, from Critique of Judgment (Kaplan and Anderson 232-9)

In Class Activity: Classical Criticism

Week 3
T, 1-27

Theory: Coleridge, from Biographia Literaria (Kaplan and Anderson 257-78)

Theory: Shelley, "A Defence of Poetry" (Kaplan and Anderson 287-309)

Criticism Journal 1 Inititial Due

R, 1-29

Psychoanalytic Criticism

Overview: Tyson, Ch1 Everything You Wanted to Know about Critical Theory But Were Afraid to Ask (Tyson 1-10)

Tyson, Ch2 Psychoanalytic Criticism (Tyson 11-52)

Theory: Freud, "The Theme of the Three Caskets" (Kaplan and Anderson 394-403)

Freud, "Creative Writers and Daydreaming" (online)

Freud, "Repression" (online)

Freud, "The Unconscious" (online)

Freud, "Negation" (online)

Criticism: Tyson, "'What's Love Got to Do with It?': A Psychoanalytic Reading of The Great Gatsby" (Tyson 39-48)

Week 4
T, 2-3

Theory: Felman, "The Case of Poe" (Kaplan and Anderson 662-82)

Theory: Lacan, "Seminar on The Purloined Letter" (online)

Recommended: Poe, "The Purloined Letter" (online)

R, 2-5

Theory: Lacan, "The Agency of the Letter in the Unconscious or Reason since Freud" (online)

Criticism: Sadoff, "The Father, Castration, and Female Fantasy in Jane Eyre" (Brontë 502-35)

Criticism: Williams, "An I for an Eye: 'Spectral Persecution' in 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner'" (Coleridge 220-60)

Week 5
T, 2-10

Theory: Mulvey, "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" (online)

Criticism: Adelman, "'Man and Wife Is One Flesh': Hamlet and the Confrontation with the Maternal Body (Shakespeare 241-82)

R, 2-12

Marxist Criticism

Overview: Tyson, Ch3 Marxist Criticism (Tyson 53-82)

Theory: Marx, "Manifesto of the Communist Party" (online)

Marx, from The German Ideology (Kaplan and Anderson 310-318)

Criticism: Tyson, "You Are What You Own: A Marxist Reading of The Great Gatsby" (Tyson 69-78)

Criticism Journal 2 Psychoanalysis Due

Week 6

T, 2-17

Theory: Eagleton, from Marxism and Literary Criticism (Kaplan and Anderson 525-43)

Criticism: Fraiman, "Jane Eyre's Fall from Grace" (Brontë 599-632)

R, 2-19

Theory: Horkheimer and Adorno, from "The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception" (online)

Criticism: Simpson, "How Marxism Reads 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner'" (Coleridge 131-67)

Week 7
T, 2-24

Theory: Althusser, "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses" (online)

Criticism: Bristol, "Funeral-Bak'd-Meats": Carnival and the Carnivalesque in Hamlet" (Shakespeare 332-67)

R, 2-26

Feminist Criticism

Overview: Tyson, Ch4 Feminist Criticism (Tyson 83-134)

Theory: Woolf, "Shakespeare's Sister" (Kaplan and Anderson 411-21)

Criticism: Tyson, "'. . . Next they'll throw everything overboard . . .': A Feminist Reading of The Great Gatsby" (Tyson 120-9)

Criticism Journal 3 Marxism Due

Exam 1 Due

Week 8
T, 3-3

Theory: Rich, "When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision" (Kaplan and Anderson 511-24)

Theory: Smith, "Toward a Black Feminist Criticism" (online)

R, 3-5

Theory: Gilbert and Gubar, "Tradition and the Female Talent: Modernism and Masculinism" (Kaplan and Anderson 683-95)

Criticism: Gilbert, "Plain Jane's Progress" (Brontë 459-501)

Week 9
T, 3-10

Theory: Baym, "Melodramas of Beset Manhood" (Kaplan and Anderson 586-602)

Criticism: Showalter, "Representing Ophelia: Women, Madness, and the Responsibilities of Feminist Criticism" (Shakespeare 208-240)

R, 3-12

New Criticism

Overview: Tyson, Ch5 New Criticism (Tyson 135-168)

Theory: Ransom, "Criticism as Pure Speculation" (Kaplan and Anderson 448-64)

In Class Activity: The New Criticism

Criticism Journal 4 Feminism Due

Week 10
T, 3-17


Theory: Brooks, "Keats's Sylvan Historian: History without Footnotes" (Kaplan and Anderson 465-74)

Overview: Tyson, Ch7 Structuralist Criticism (Tyson 209-248)

Recommended: Keats, "Ode on a Grecian Urn"

R, 3-19

Theory: Frye, "The Archetypes of Literature" (Kaplan and Anderson 475-86)

Theory: Barthes, "The Structuralist Activity" (Kaplan and Anderson 487-92)

Barthes, "The Death of the Author" (online)

Week 11
T, 3-24

No Class: Spring Break

R, 3-26

No Class: Spring Break

Week 12
T, 3-31


Overview: Tyson, Ch8 Deconstructive Criticism (Tyson 249-280)

Theory: Eco, "The Deconstruction of the Linguistic Sign" (Kaplan and Anderson 603-14)

Criticism: Tyson, "'. . . The thrilling, returning trains of my youth . . .': A Deconstructive Reading of The Great Gatsby" (Tyson 267-77)

R, 4-2

Theory: Derrida, "Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences" (Kaplan and Anderson 493-510)

Week 13
T, 4-7

Theory: Derrida, "Differance" (online)

Criticism: Schwartz, "No Place Like Home: The Logic of the Supplement in Jane Eyre" (Brontë 536-64)

R, 4-9

Theory: De Man, "Semiology and Rhetoric" (Kaplan and Anderson 559-72)

Criticism: Eilenberg, "Voice and Ventriloquy in 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner'" (Coleridge 261-314)

Week 14
T, 4-14

Theory: Johnson, "A Hound, a Bay Horse, and a Turtle Dove: Obscurity in Walden" (Kaplan and Anderson 654-61)

Recommended: Thoreau, Walden (online)

Criticism: Garber, "Hamlet: Giving Up the Ghost" (Shakespeare 283-331)

R, 4-16

New Historicism and Cultural Criticism

Overview: Tyson, Ch9 New Historical and Cultural Criticism (281-316)

Theory: Foucault, "What Is an Author?" (Kaplan and Anderson 544-58)

Criticism: Tyson, "The Discourse of the Self-Made Man: A New Historical Reading of The Great Gatsby" (Tyson 301-10)

Criticism Journal 5 Deconstruction Due

Exam 2 Due

Week 15
T, 4-21

Theory: Geertz, "Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture" (online)

Criticism: Modiano, "Sameness or Difference? Historicist Readings of 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner'" (Coleridge 168-219)

R, 4-23

Theory: Greenblatt, "Shakespeare and the Exorcists" (Kaplan and Anderson 630-53)

Greenblatt, "The Circulation of Social Energy" (online)

Criticism: Michie, "White Chimpanzees and Oriental Despots: Racial Stereotyping and Edward Rochester" (Brontë 565-98)

Week 16
T, 4-28

Theory: Hall, "Cultural Studies: Two Paradigms" (online)

Criticism: Coddon, "'Suche Strange Desygns': Madness, Subjectivity, and Treason in Hamlet and Elizabethan Culture" (Shakespeare 368-402)

R, 4-30

Final Paper Roundtable of Abstracts

Recommended Overview: Tyson, Ch10 Lesbian, Gay, and Queer Criticism (317-358)

Recommended Theory: Sedgwick, from Epistemology of the Closet (Kaplan and Anderson 744-50)

Complete Criticism Journal Due

R, 5-7

Recommended Overview: Tyson, Ch6 Reader-Response Criticism (169-208)

Recommended Theory: Fish, "Is There a Text in This Class?" (Kaplan and Anderson 573-85)

Recommended Overview: Tyson, Ch11 African-American Criticism (359-416)

Recommended Theory: Gates, Jr., "The Trope of the Talking Book" from The Signifying Monkey (Kaplan and Anderson 696-743)

Recommended Overview: Tyson, Ch12 Postcolonial Criticism (417-450)

Recommended Theory: Bhabha, "The Postcolonial and the Postmodern: The Question of Agency" (Kaplan and Anderson 763-82)

Final Paper Due (undergraduate)

Seminar Paper Due (graduate) (2:00-4:45PM)