Writing About Literature: Origin Stories (English Majors)
It isn't only superheroes that have origin stories. In fact, writers from many periods, working in many genres, have sought to explain and retell the histories that make characters, authors, nations and people (more generally) who they are. In addition to considering the prominence of the origin story in some contemporary pop culture artifacts, we'll read a variety of works that seek to explain how history makes and unmakes personality and identity. Works considered are likely to include William Shakespeare's play, Hamlet, Alison Bechdel's graphic memoir Fun Home, John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost (selections), lyric poems by Natasha Trethewey, and Yaa Gyasi's novel Homegoing.
Another important part of English 2100 is to become familiar with a range of critical and theoretical approaches scholars might use to analyze a text. By comparing several theoretical approaches (such as New Criticism, feminism, postcolonial criticism, African American criticism and LGBTQ criticism) you will be able to see how your view of a text depends on the questions you ask about it. We will also highlight the historical relationship among literary criticism, social history and activism.
Over the course of the semester, you will practice the skills necessary to write and revise a critical literary analysis paper. By participating in this process, you will become not only a reader, but a scholar and interpreter of literature by the end of this class!