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Course Syllabus, Fall 1998 Dr. Barbara F. McManus College of New Rochelle

DESCRIPTION: Introduction to the major principles of contemporary literary theory and criticism and to established methods and materials of literary research.

OBJECTIVES: Students will demonstrate

  1. understanding of the basic theoretical concepts underlying contemporary approaches to literature and of the major differences between them;
  2. understanding of the aims of literary criticism; knowledge of key forms and terminology of literary criticism; ability to read the writings of literary scholars and critics with understanding and judicious appreciation;
  3. knowledge of the methods and materials of literary research; ability to conduct literary research according to established procedures and to use such research effectively and responsibly;
  4. ability to generate and articulate personal responses to literary and critical texts, and to explain the premises and assumptions underlying such personal responses;
  5. ability to write a critical essay that states a clear thesis and supports it persuasively, integrating literary research with personal ideas.




METHODS: Lecture/discussion classes; supervised library and internet research; individual conferences.


Punctual completion of all assigned readings; participation in class discussions of literary and critical works and of student essays (all course objectives).

Numerous informal written assignments; for details, see Schedule of Assignments: Prose Fiction and Schedule of Assignments: Poetry. Full credit will be given for all assignments that are complete and on time, and students can earn extra points for high-quality work. Deductions will be made for assignments that are handed in late, and students will lose 5 points from the class participation portion of the grade for each assignment that is not submitted (all course objectives).

Two formal critical essays (one on a work of prose fiction, the other on a poem) integrating library research with personal interpretation of literary works (objectives 3, 4, 5).

Final examination during exam week (objectives 1, 2). Please note that I will not give any "Incompletes" at the end of this course unless the student has a very serious reason which she has discussed with me in advance.

Since we will be dealing with complex and highly sophisticated theories in this course, class attendance and participation are particularly important and will constitute a high proportion of the grade (40%). Each student is therefore responsible for prompt and regular class attendance. Each absence in excess of four, whether excused or not, will result in a deduction of 3 points from the class participation portion of the grade.


OFFICE HOURS: Castle 315 (extension 5399)

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revised December 1998