ENG 5049 Home

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.