Graduate Resources

Comparative Literature 501 / French 512 / English 571 
The History of Modern Literary Theory 

Fall 2002 - Professor Caroline Weber 

In this course, we will explore texts from a wide array of influential modern literary-critical methodologies. The readings have been divided into five sections, each designed to focus our thinking on a set of specific topics, including but not restricted to questions of signification, authorship, subjectivity, ideology, cultural authority, and difference. Necessarily broad in scope, the class is designed to provide students with some basic fluency in a number of important theoretical discourses, and in the case of Comp Lit graduate students, to assist in preparation for the M. A. exam. 

Course requirements: one short paper (6-8pp.), due October 29, that mimetically adopts a particular critical approach or style, one longer paper (15-20pp.), due December 10, that critiques/analyzes one or more of the assigned readings, and one substantial oral presentation (20-30 minutes) in which the student "teaches" a given text to the seminar. No final examination. Classroom activity may include impromptu group presentations and debates (e. g., Marxism challenges Deconstruction; Helene Cixous meets Luce Irigaray, etc.). Participation in these exercises and in class discussion is extremely important. Auditors and undergraduates by permission of instructor. 

Readings: Unless otherwise specified (by an asterisk), all texts are reproduced in the course bulk pack, available at Campus Copy on 40"' & Walnut. Asterisked books can be purchased at the Perm Book Center or checked out of the library. Except on Sept. 10, hand-outs will be provided one week in advance of the date designated on the syllabus.

1. Theoretical Preamble [September 10] 

  • Matthew Arnold, "The Function of Criticism at the Present Time" [hand-out] 
  • Paul de Man, "The Resistance to Theory" [hand-out]

2. The Death of the Author and the After-life of the Text

    a) New Criticism and Russian Formalism [September 17] 

  • Wimsatt, "The Intentional Fallacy" & "The Affective Fallacy" in The Verbal Icon 
  • Cleanth Brooks, The Well-Wrought Urn (excerpts) 
  • Roman Jakobson, "The Metaphoric and Metonymic Poles" & "Closing Statement: Linguistics and Poetics" [hand-out]

    b) Structuralism [October 1] 

  • Ferdinand de Saussure, Course in General Linguistics* (Parts I & 2) 
  • Roland Barthes, "The Death of the Author" [hand-out] & "The Structuralist Activity"
  • Michel Foucault, "What is an Author?" 
  • Umberto Eco, "The Myth of Superman"

    c) Deconstruction [October 8] 

  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau, On the Origin of Languages (excerpts) 
  • Friedrich Nietzsche, "On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense" 
  • Jacques Derrida, "Differance" & "Signature Event Context," in Margins of Philosophy*
  • Barbara Johnson, The Wake of Deconstruction (excerpts) [hand-out]

    d) Postmodernism, Cultural Studies, & Beyond [October 15] 

  • Jean-Francois Lyotard, "The Postmodern Condition" 
  • Michel de Certeau, "The Arts of Theory," in The Practice of Everyday Life 
  • Bill Brown, "Thing Theory" 
  • Tom Cohen, Ideology and Inscription : "Cultural Studies " after Benjamin, de Man, and Bakhtin (excerpts) [hand-out]

3. Literature and Psychoanalysis 

    a) The Freudian Turn [October 22]

  • Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams* (pp. 128-253, 289-301, 311-319, 340-344, 374-388) 
  • Jacques Lacan, "Agency of the Letter in the Unconscious," in Écrits* [hand-out if book is still unavailable] 
  • Felix Guattari & Gilles Deleuze, Anti-Oedipus (excerpts)

    b) Lacan with Hegel [October 29] 

  • G. W. F. Hegel, "Lordship and Bondage" in Phenomenology of the Spirit 
  • Jacques Lacan, "The Mirror Stage," in Écrits* [hand-out if book is still unavailable] 
  • Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen, Lacan: Absolute Master (excerpts)

    c) Fetishism, Three Ways [November 5] 

  • Sigmund Freud, "Fetishism" 
  • Jean Baudrillard, For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign* Chapters I & 3 
  • Slavoj Zizek, "Fetishism and its Vicissitudes," in The Plague of Fantasies

IV. The Ideology of the Aesthetic 

    a) Marxism, Ideology, History [November 12] 

  • Karl Marx, The German Ideology (excerpts) 
  • Louis Althusser, "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses" 
  • Slavoj Zizek, The Sublime Object of Ideology* Chapters 3 (skim) & 4 (read)

    b) Aesthetics and Modernity [November 19] 

  • Martin Heidegger, "The Origin of the Work of Art" 
  • Walter Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" (read) & "Theses on the Philosophy of History" (skim) in Illuminations*

    c) High Theory and "Low" Culture [November 26] 

  • Max Horkheimer & Theodor Adorno, "The Culture industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception" 
  • Antonio Gramsci, "People, Nation, & Culture" 
  • Andreas Huyssen, After the Great Divide (excerpts) [hand-out]

V. Thinking Otherwise 

    a) French Feminism, Three Ways [December 3] 

  • Luce Irigaray, "Woman on the Market," in This Sex Which Isn't One 
  • Julia Kristeva, Revolutions in Poetic Language (excerpts) [hand-out] 
  • Helene Cixous & Catherine Clement, Newly Born Woman (excerpts)

    b) The Empire Writes Back [December 10] 

  • Gayatri Spivak, "Can the Subaltern Speak?" 
  • Homi Bhabha, "Dissemination" 
  • Fred Jameson, "Third-World Literature in the Era of Multinational Capitalism"


Last modified November 08, 2002
Maintained by Stephen Hock and Mark Sample
Program in Comparative Literature
School of Arts & Sciences
University of Pennsylvania