Course website: http://methodsliterarystudy.wordpress.com
This is a new course with content that will vary by term. It is designed to offer majors the experience of a small seminar in which they might study and discuss some of the primary methods and techniques of literary study. The course is upper-division, following English 10 but preceding English 197, which ideally serves as a capstone for the major. In Winter 2015 we will focus on the topic of “bookwork after new media,” asking to what extent computational media have had a transformative effect on print practices and considering the myriad ways we read (and write) now. While no single class can comprehensively address these questions, we will nonetheless work toward developing a critical framework for understanding our contemporary textual environments. To do so, we will pair classic works on questions of interpretation and analytic methods (e.g. Auerbach, Freud, Geertz, Sontag) with media archaeology and the material history of the book.
The course will begin with our reading of advance copies of the first volume of a new work by Mark Z. Danielewski, The Familiar, which is slated for publication in the late spring. This will give us the opportunity to engage a work for which no criticism yet exists, and indeed even to help shape the conversation. As you will see once you hold a copy of the book in your hands, we will be prompted to articulate the concepts, terms, and analytic frames necessary in order to begin reading—a truly valuable, and enjoyable, exercise for any literary scholar. There will be an online discussion with students and scholars reading the galleys in other university courses: <http://thefamiliar.wordpress.com/>.