|Semester and Year||SP 2011|
|Time||11:00 AM - 12:15 PM|
This course will study three "case histories" which form the background of contemporary literary theory. The class's purpose is not to study theory in itself, but to understand some of the ideas and sources that have contributed to contemporary formulations. We will begin with Aristotle’s philosophy and its connections to Moses Maimonides and to Christian thinkers’ ideas about divine attributes, called "negative theology," tracing the connections to Jacques Derrida’s notions of différance and deferred meaning. We will then look at nineteenth-century French poet Stéphane Mallarmé’s poetry and prose, as well as poems by Charles Baudelaire, Emily Dickinson, Rainer Maria Rilke and Paul Celan. Our reading will investigate how the play with syntax, metaphor and meaning instantiates absence and semantic indeterminacy into poetic texts. In turn, poetry's experiments with productive absences inspire some of the concepts of modern linguists, philosophers and psychologists, as well as modern writers. Finally, we will examine works of Dostoyevsky and Woolf in order to hear and think about multiple voices and the dialogic--what Bakhtin calls "heteroglossia"--in literature and other discourse. Through looking at the ways literature and philosophy have employed negation, indeterminacy and discursive diversity to create new spaces in readers' imaginations and new ways of generating meaning, we will make visible the literature at the heart of theory. No previous experience with literary theory required.
Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)