Introduction to Theory of Literature

About the Course

This is a survey of the main trends in twentieth-century literary theory. Lectures will provide background for the readings and explicate them where appropriate, while attempting to develop a coherent overall context that incorporates philosophical and social perspectives on the recurrent questions: what is literature, how is it produced, how can it be understood, and what is its purpose?

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Course Structure

This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Spring, 2009.

The Open Yale Courses Series

For more information about Professor Fry’s book Theory of Literature, click here.

Course Materials

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About Professor Paul H. Fry

Paul H. Fry is the William Lampson Professor of English at Yale and specializes in British Romanticism, literary theory, and literature and the visual arts. He was educated at the University of California, Berkeley and Harvard and has been teaching at Yale since 1971. His publications include The Poet's Calling in the English Ode, for which he was awarded the Melville Cane Award; The Reach of Criticism: Method and Perception in Literary Theory; William Empson: Prophet Against Sacrifice; A Defense of Poetry: Essays on the Occasion of Writing; and Wordsworth and the Poetry of What We Are.

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Syllabus

Professor

Paul H. Fry, William Lampson Professor of English

Description

This is a survey of the main trends in twentieth-century literary theory. Lectures will provide background for the readings and explicate them where appropriate, while attempting to develop a coherent overall context that incorporates philosophical and social perspectives on the recurrent questions: what is literature, how is it produced, how can it be understood, and what is its purpose?

Texts

Richter, David, ed. The Critical Tradition, 3rd ed. Boston: Bedford-St. Martin's, 2006.

Requirements

Two short papers (5-7 pp.) will be required (each counting for 30% of the grade), and there will be a final exam (25% of the grade). Graduate students may either do these assignments or opt to write a 20-25 pp. term paper and be excused from the exam. Attendance at sections is crucial, as discussion is needed to ensure understanding of the material, and participation in this discussion will count for 15% of the final grade.

Grading

Paper 1: 30%
Paper 2: 30%
Final paper: 25%
Discussion section attendance and participation: 15%

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Course Books and Other Related Titles

Yale University Press offers a 10% discount on the books used in ENGL 300 that it publishes, as well as on other related titles. A portion of the proceeds from your purchases will be donated for the ongoing support and development of the Open Yale Courses program.

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