Course Overview

Introduction to Literature

Dr. Victoria Papa

To start, this course takes seriously the following inquiry: “Why study literature?” In this course, we will read and interpret literary works of various genres through a consideration of writerly techniques, aesthetic devices, thematic concerns, historical contexts, and socio-political inquiries—all while keeping this key question in mind. It is often assumed that reading literature makes a difference—for the better—in our lives: it allows us to acquire knowledge, exposes us to worlds outside our own, engages us in the delights of creative language and the pleasures of quiet, solitary time. In fact, the aforementioned points are often among the reasons that people major in English. I will advocate that the study of literature offers these things, but also something else, something more. Together, we will work on naming that difference in our individual and collective terms — and we will also learn what some “experts” have to say on the matter. In this course, students will learn to close-read with an attention to literary conventions, to engage in the critical language of the discipline, and to deem noteworthy the surface or meta-textual experience of literature. For instance, students will be assigned a personal reading journal in which first-impressions and feelings should be considered as an important and noteworthy—extracts of the journal will be used as touchstones in more formal, short-response assignments