This seminar focuses on the study of literature and literary criticism. Through close reading of a range of literary forms, including short stories, novels, plays, and narrative essays, we identify the conventions that characterize each genre (including the blurring of genres) and that invite various strategies of reading. In addition to the formal analysis of each work, we will consider theoretical approaches to literature—for example, new historicism, postcolonial studies, feminist and gender analysis, and psychoanalytic criticism—that draw on questions and concepts from other disciplines. Attention will be given to the transaction between the reader and the text. The aims of the course are to encourage students to make meaning of literary works and to hone their skills in written interpretation. Authors may include Poe, Melville, Chekhov, Hawthorne, Bellow, Beckett, Baldwin, Woolf, Morrison, Conrad, Gordimer, Achebe, Kincaid, and Erdrich.