ENG 199 Methods of Literary Study
Jefferson Hunter, M W 2:40 PM-4:00 PM
Andrea Stone, T Th 3:00 PM-4:20 PM
This course is about a variety of approaches to literature, the different ways in which it’s possible to read poetry, fiction, non-fictional prose, and drama with increased understanding—and with increased pleasure. Using readings from different periods and different regions of the English-speaking world, we’ll practice such methods of literary study as
Establishing the text: ensuring that what we read is what the author wrote.
Reading closely: making good sense of literary language in its verbal and syntactic complexity.
Understanding narrative: noting the different perspectives from which stories may be told.
Situating literature in history: discussing texts in the context of historical events, social forces, and the larger culture.
Formal analysis, especially the scanning of poetry: analyzing the effects of meter, rhyme, and sound patterning.
Biographical study: seeing what authors’ lives have to do with the works they write.
Green, or eco-criticism: reading literature in the context of the natural world and environmental study.
Comparative study: putting two works side by side to see how they illuminate each other. In our case, the two works will be Othello and Alfred Hitchcock’s film Vertigo.
Only two works to buy: Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (World’s Classics) and Shakespeare’s Othello (Pelican); the rest of the course’s readings will be handouts or come from the Internet.
An important note about placement: prospective English majors with strong high school preparation in literature and good writing skills are encouraged to take this course in the fall of their first year; those who judge that they need additional practice in analyzing literature and writing papers are advised to take English 120 in the fall and English 199 in the spring. (Measures of strong preparation might include a 4 or a 5 on the AP exam or a verbal SAT above 710.) Students uncertain about placement are invited to consult with the chair or any member of the department. English 199 is by no means limited to prospective English majors; we welcome any student who wishes to strengthen her skills in reading and writing about literature.