ENG 5049r. Studies in Critical Theory.
Dr. Caroline Joan (Kay) S. Picart
Associate Professor of English
Courtesy Associate Professor of Law
Tues. and Thurs. 5:15-6:30PM Williams 2
General Course Description:
As a general description, this course covers various approaches to the
study of literary criticism and theory.
As a specific instance of that general course, we will begin with working through
some nineteenth- and twentieth century receptions of crucial Platonic, Nietzschean
and Kantian notions in critical theory. In addition to selections from Hazard
Adams' Critical Theory Since Plato, we will read texts by Gadamer, Foucault,
Derrida, Irigaray, Cixous, de Man, and Fish, among others, culminating in the
application of critical theory to law as a form of “literature” or “text,” as
well as to selected literary texts.
Though this is a graduate course, it is also a survey of the broad field
of critical theory in general and thus aims to enable students to wrestle
with several fundamental problems linking critical theory, literature and
philosophy, before applying them to other fields, like the visual arts or
law or science. These basic questions include: the nature of mimesis or
representation, the reader’s relation to the text, whether ethics matter
in relation to the creation and reception of literature, what is the nature
of aesthetic pleasure, what roles expression and emotion play in the generation
and interpretation of texts, and whether literary texts, as art objects,
are independent of external relations and depend upon a unique system of
internal relations, among other questions. The structure of the course
is built around the attempt to illustrate how these basic questions generate
various answers, grounded in different and yet related historical, political,
and cultural environments.