LitCrit Assignments

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This is a writing flag course, which means that we will attend carefully to writing. Informal assignments will include semi-weekly reading notes posted to the class wiki in which you will consider ways to apply the critical approach we’re currently addressing to Chopin’s The Awakening. You will also be expected to respond to your classmates’ readings.

Formal assignments will include three papers: two 5 page papers in which you will summarize as tightly as possible two critical approaches we’ve studied in class and then read one “across” the other to assess the focus, value, and stakes of each; and one 7 page application paper in which you will apply one of the critical approaches we’ve discussed to The Great Gatsby. Each paper will go through multiple drafts and a formal peer review before it’s due.

Grade Breakdown:

  • Semi-Weekly Reading Notes (7 x 4pts): 28%
  • Comparison papers (2 x 20pts): 40%
  • Application paper: 32%

Major Assignments :

Reading Notes . Each set of reading notes will include three parts:

  1. a tight and polished summary of the particular theoretical approach we’re currently addressing
  2. a meta-application of that approach to The Awakening in which you respond to the question: If one were to do a deconstructive critique (for example) of The Awakening, what main issues or textual points might one examine/demonstrate?
  3. a response to one of your classmates’ notes

Comparison Papers. The aim of these papers is to help you gain familiarity with the major elements (and claims) of common critical approaches and how they differ from one another. In each paper, you will begin by summarizing the fundamental tenets of each approach and then place them against each other in order to draw out which aspects of a text each one pulls into focus and to assess the stakes and value of that focus.

Application Paper . Your final papers will read The Great Gatsby through one of the critical approaches we have discussed in class—or else through a combination of approaches, drawing on insights from several critical perspectives to create your own frame and focus. Either way, the trick will be to accomplish this application in your own way, substantially different from any of the example texts we’ve studied. The examples will serve as your starting point, your frame of reference; they demonstrate for you what a psychoanalytic or feminist or reader-response critic might do with The Great Gatsby. From there, your reading should be your own.

Course ObjectivesTexts | Policies | Assignments and Grades | Schedule