Morris's ENGL 5300:501

ENGL 5300:501 Theory and Practice

Fall 1996

Tim Morris

office hours by appointment only

Required Texts:

Lodge, Modern Criticism and Theory (Longman)


in all meetings is essential, so please attend.

Ten Papers are required.

Each should be 3-5 pages long except the last, which may be a bit longer. The papers will generate our discussion and study of the theoretical readings. Each assignment is the same: how does the required reading for the week help you think about your Central Text?

Your Central Text

is the main object for study--for you--in the course. You should choose that text at the first meeting (26 August); the choice should be final by the time the first paper is due (9 September).

The obvious choice is a literary text. I will use a literary text--the poems of Emily Dickinson--as my Central Text this semester, so that I can refer to something specific when I participate in seminar meetings.

But it doesn't have to be a literary text. Cultural things of many sorts can serve as and be read as texts. Your Central Text is constrained only by your imagination and a few common-sense guidelines: it has to be discrete and definable; it has to have generated a body of scholarship (or at least probably generated such scholarship); you have to know it well already; and it can't be Emily Dickinson.

You may always drop

with a W by Midsemester (18 October) but I will never drop anyone of my own accord for any reason, except never attending at all.


26 August: introductions and syllabus
2 September: Labor Day; no class meeting
9 September: Paper #1 due: Foucault, "What is an Author?" (suggested background reading: Barthes, "The Death of the Author"
16 September: Paper #2 due: Saussure, "The Object of Study," "Nature of the Linguistic Sign" (suggested background reading: Jakobson, "Linguistics and Poetics")
23 September: Paper #3 due: Kristeva, "The Ethics of Linguistics" (suggested background reading: MacCabe, "Language, Linguistics and the study of literature")
30 September: Lecture/Discussion: Interpretation and Criticism
7 October: Paper #4 due: Lacan, "The Insistence of the Letter in the Unconscious" (suggested background reading: Hartman, "The Interpreter's Freud")
14 October: Paper #5 due: Derrida, "Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences" (suggested background reading: Abrams, "The Deconstructive Angel")
21 October: Paper #6 due: Fish, "Interpreting the Variorum" (suggested background reading: Iser, "The Reading Process: A Phenomenological Approach")
28 October: Lecture/Discussion: Gender and Theory
4 November: Paper #7 due: Mitchell, "Femininity, Narrative and Psychoanalysis" (suggested background reading: Showalter, "Feminist Criticism in the Wilderness")
11 November: Paper #8 due: Cixous, "Sorties"
18 November: A Trip to the Library
25 November: Paper #9 due: Bakhtin: "From the Prehistory of Novelistic Discourse"
2 December: Final Meeting. Paper #10 due: an annotated bibliography of the 20 most recent items of scholarship on your Central Text

I don't want theory. I just want facts. --former student in 5300

I don't have to practice! I'm real good! --Ed Norton