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

Jefferson Hunter section of ENG 199

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.

            ENG 199 is writing-intensive and discussion based.

Andrea Stone section of ENG 199

An introduction to the English major, English 199 teaches the skills one needs to study literature with understanding and pleasure. Using examples from different periods and different regions of the English–speaking world, we will develop a sense of how poetry, prose fiction, and drama work and how they relate to one another.

All sections will practice these elements of critical analysis:

In short, the course seeks to help its students become perceptive readers equipped with the necessary vocabulary and techniques to take on complex texts. Readings in different sections will vary, but all will involve active discussion and frequent writing. Our goal is to convey our own joy in reading, discussing, and writing about literature to every student in the course.

Works will include a variety of short stories; Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights; Shakespeare's Othello, along with readings that provide social and historical contexts; a rich variety of poetry and song lyrics from early to recent; and Hitchcock's film Vertigo, accompanied by essays modeling a variety of critical approaches.

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.