Course content

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1. Introduction

Introduction to Theory of Literature (ENGL 300)

In this first lecture, Professor Paul Fry explores the course's title in three parts. The relationship between theory and philosophy, the question of what literature is and does, and what constitutes an introduction are interrogated. The professor then situates the emergence of literary theory in the history of modern criticism and, through an analysis of major thinkers such as Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud, provides antecedents for twentieth-century theoretical developments.

00:00 - Chapter 1. Introduction
04:29 - Chapter 2. Theory and Philosophy
10:08 - Chapter 3. What Is Literature?
13:10 - Chapter 4. The Idea of an "Introduction"
18:11 - Chapter 5. Literary Theory and the History of Modern Criticism
32:10 - Chapter 6. The Hermeneutics of Suspicion

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://open.yale.edu/courses

This course was recorded in Spring 2009.

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2. Introduction (cont.)

Introduction to Theory of Literature (ENGL 300)

In this second introductory lecture, Professor Paul Fry explores the interrelation of skepticism and determinism. The nature of discourse and the related issue of discursivity is read through two modern works, Anton Chekov's Cherry Orchard and Henry James' The Ambassadors. Exemplary critical focus on literary authority is located in Michel Foucault's "What Is an Author" and [Roland] Barthes' "The Death of the Author," both of which are read with an emphasis on their historical contexts. Objections to the approach and conclusions of the two theorists are examined, particularly in light of the rise of cultural studies.

00:00 - Chapter 1. Introduction
01:52 - Chapter 2. Anton Chekhov and Henry James
11:26 - Chapter 3. Author and Authority
19:36 - Chapter 4. "The Founders of Discursivity"
28:20 - Chapter 5. Critique of the "Author Function"

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://open.yale

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3. Ways In and Out of the Hermeneutic Circle

Introduction to Theory of Literature (ENGL 300)

In this lecture, Professor Paul Fry examines acts of reading and interpretation by way of the theory of hermeneutics. The origins of hermeneutic thought are traced through Western literature. The mechanics of hermeneutics, including the idea of a hermeneutic circle, are explored in detail with reference to the works of Hans-George Gadamer, Martin Heidegger, and E. D. Hirsch. Particular attention is paid to the emergence of concepts of "historicism" and "historicality" and their relation to hermeneutic theory.

00:00 - Chapter 1. The History of Hermeneutics
10:32 - Chapter 2. The Hermeneutic Circle
20:37 - Chapter 3. On Prejudice
23:45 - Chapter 4. Historicism and "Historicality"
27:48 - Chapter 5. Gadamer's Debt to Heidegger
33:21 - Chapter 6. Prejudice and Tradition
37:20 - Chapter 7. E. D. Hirsch

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://open.yale.edu/courses

This course was record

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4. Configurative Reading

Introduction to Theory of Literature (ENGL 300)

The discussion of Gadamer and Hirsch continues in this lecture, which further examines the relationship between reading and interpretation. Through a comparative analysis of these theorists, Professor Paul Fry explores the difference between meaning and significance, the relationship between understanding and paraphrasing, and the nature of the gap between the reader and the text. Through Wolfgang Iser's essay, "The Reading Process," the nature of textual expectation and surprise, and the theory of their universal importance in narrative, is explained. The lecture concludes by considering the fundamental, inescapable role that hermeneutic premises play in canon formation.

00:00 - Chapter 1. Gadamer Revisited
08:47 - Chapter 2. Hirsch's Historicism
19:44 - Chapter 3. Iser: The Act of Reading
28:25 - Chapter 4. Expectations
43:12 - Chapter 5. Tony the Tow Truck
48:51 - Chapter 6. Gadamer, Iser, Hirsch, and the Canon

Complete c

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5. The Idea of the Autonomous Artwork

Introduction to Theory of Literature (ENGL 300)

In this lecture, Professor Paul Fry explores the origins of formalist literary criticism. Considerable attention is paid to the rise and subsequent popularity of the New Critics and their preferred site of literary exploration, the "poem." The idea of autonomous art is explored in the writings of, among others, Kant, Coleridge, and Wilde. Using the work of Wimsatt and Beardsley, the lecture concludes with an examination of acceptable categories of evidence in New Criticism.

00:00 - Chapter 1. New Criticism and the Poem as (Miniature) World
07:28 - Chapter 2. Formalism and Immanuel Kant
21:35 - Chapter 3. Kant and Coleridge: The Good, the Agreeable, and the Beautiful
28:21 - Chapter 4. Wimsatt and Beardsley: The Anatomy of the "Poem"
40:34 - Chapter 5. Wimsatt and Beardsley: Permissable Evidence

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://open.yale.edu/courses

This course was recorded in

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6. The New Criticism and Other Western Formalisms

Introduction to Theory of Literature (ENGL 300)

In this second lecture on formalism, Professor Paul Fry begins by exploring the implications of Wimsatt and Beardsley's theory of literary interpretation by applying them to Yeats's "Lapis Lazuli." He then maps the development of Anglo-American formalism from Modernist literature to the American and British academies. Some time is spent examining the similarities and differences between the works of I. A. Richards and his protegé, William Empson. The lecture finally turns to a discussion of Cleanth Brooks's conception of unity.

00:00 - Chapter 1. Yeats' "Lapis Lazuli" and Tony the Tow Truck
07:18 - Chapter 2. The New Criticism: Modernist and Academic Contexts
13:44 - Chapter 3. Earlier Close Readers: I. A. Richards
24:27 - Chapter 4. Earlier Close Readers: William Empson
37:50 - Chapter 5. Brooks and the "Implications of "Unity"

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://open.yale.edu/cou

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7. Russian Formalism

Introduction to Theory of Literature (ENGL 300)

In this lecture, Professor Paul Fry explores the works of major Russian formalists reviewed in an essay by Boris Eikhenbaum. He begins by distinguishing Russian formalism from hermeneutics. Eikhenbaum's dependency on core ideas of Marxist and Darwinian philosophies of struggle and evolution is explained. Formalism's scientific language and methodical aspirations are discussed. Crucial formalist distinctions between plot and story, practical and poetic language, and literature and literariness are clarified.

00:00 - Chapter 1. Introduction to the Russian Formalist Tradition
09:22 - Chapter 2. Boris Eikhenbaum
20:02 - Chapter 3. Criticism of Perception: Defamiliarization
24:51 - Chapter 4. Poetic Language and Practical Language
30:30 - Chapter 5. Device as a Function
35:36 - Chapter 6. Plot and Story
41:25 - Chapter 7. The Literary as Historiography

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: htt

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8. Semiotics and Structuralism

Introduction to Theory of Literature (ENGL 300)

In this lecture, Professor Paul Fry explores the semiotics movement through the work of its founding theorist, Ferdinand de Saussure. The relationship of semiotics to hermeneutics, New Criticism, and Russian formalism is considered. Key semiotic binaries--such as langue and parole, signifier and signified, and synchrony and diachrony--are explored. Considerable time is spent applying semiotics theory to the example of a "red light" in a variety of semiotic contexts.

00:00 - Chapter 1. What is Semiology?
08:34 - Chapter 2. "Langue" and "Parole," "Signified" and "Signifier"
27:08 - Chapter 3. Positive and Negative Knowledge: Arbitrary and Differential
33:11 - Chapter 4. Example: the Red Stoplight
45:55 - Chapter 5. Synchrony and Diachrony

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://open.yale.edu/courses

This course was recorded in Spring 2009.

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9. Linguistics and Literature

Introduction to Theory of Literature (ENGL 300)

In this lecture on the work of Roman Jakobson, Professor Paul Fry continues his discussion of synchrony and diachrony. The relationships among formalism, semiotics, and linguistics are explored. Claude Levi-Strauss's structural interpretation of the Oedipus myth is discussed in some detail. In order to differentiate Jakobson's poetic functions, Professor Fry analyzes the sentence "It is raining" from six perspectives. Significant attention is paid to the use of diagrams in literary linguistic theory.

00:00 - Chapter 1. Synchrony and Diachrony
06:47 - Chapter 2. The Emergence of Structuralism
11:24 - Chapter 3. The Relationship Between Formalism and Semiotics
17:33 - Chapter 4. Levi-Strauss and the Meaning of the Oedipus Myth
26:19 - Chapter 5. The Poetic Function
32:49 - Chapter 6. Jacobson's Six Functions
43:53 - Chapter 7. Metalanguage and Poetic Function

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses we

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10. Deconstruction I

Introduction to Theory of Literature (ENGL 300)

In this lecture on Derrida and the origins of deconstruction, Professor Paul Fry explores two central Derridian works: "Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of Human Sciences" and "Différance." Derrida's critique of structuralism and semiotics, particularly the work of Levi-Strauss and Saussure, is articulated. Deconstruction's central assertions that language is by nature arbitrary and that meaning is indeterminate are examined. Key concepts, such as the nature of the text, discourse, différance, and supplementarity are explored.

00:00 - Chapter 1. Origins and Influence of Jacques Derrida
06:33 - Chapter 2. Derrida's Style
09:25 - Chapter 3. The Eiffel Tower and Wallace Stevens' "Anecdote of the Jar"
17:00 - Chapter 4. Levi-Strauss and the Oedipus Myth
22:39 - Chapter 5. Derrida and Semiotic Science
28:13 - Chapter 6. "Event" and History
33:42 - Chapter 7. Language and Writing
42:34 - Chapter 8. Language, Supplementari

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11. Deconstruction II

Introduction to Theory of Literature (ENGL 300)

In this second lecture on deconstruction, Professor Paul Fry concludes his consideration of Derrida and begins to explore the work of Paul de Man. Derrida's affinity for and departure from Levi-Strauss's distinction between nature and culture are outlined. De Man's relationship with Derrida, their similarities and differences--particularly de Man's insistence on "self-deconstruction" and his reliance on Jakobson--are discussed. The difference between rhetoric and grammar, particularly the rhetoricization of grammar and the grammaticization of rhetoric, is elucidated through de Man's own examples taken from "All in the Family," Yeats' "Among School Children," and the novels of Proust.

00:00 - Chapter 1. Derrida and Levi-Strauss
10:37 - Chapter 2. Writing and Speech
16:06 - Chapter 3. Paul de Man and Nazism
24:37 - Chapter 4. Similarities Between De Man and Derrida
33:35 - Chapter 5. De Man and Derrida: Differences
39:24 - Chapte

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12. Freud and Fiction

Introduction to Theory of Literature (ENGL 300)

In this lecture, Professor Paul Fry turns his attention to the relationship between authorship and the psyche. Freud's meditations on the fundamental drives governing human behavior are read through the lens of literary critic Peter Brooks. The origins of Freud's work on the "pleasure principle" and his subsequent revision of it are charted, and the immediate and constant influence of Freudian thought on literary production is asserted. Brooks' contributions to literary theory are explored: particularly the coupling of multiple Freudian principles, including the pleasure principle and the death wish, and their application to narrative structures. At the lecture's conclusion, the professor returns to the children's story, Tony the Tow Truck, to suggest the universality of Brooks' argument.

00:00 - Chapter 1. Brooks' Debt to Jakobson and de Man
06:10 - Chapter 2. Brooks' Debt to Freud
13:14 - Chapter 3. Brooks' Departure from Freud

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13. Jacques Lacan in Theory

Introduction to Theory of Literature (ENGL 300)

In this lecture on psychoanalytic criticism, Professor Paul Fry explores the work of Jacques Lacan. Lacan's interest in Freud and distaste for post-Freudian "ego psychologists" are briefly mentioned, and his clinical work on "the mirror stage" is discussed in depth. The relationship in Lacanian thought, between metaphor and metonymy is explored through the image of the point de capiton. The correlation between language and the unconscious, and the distinction between desire and need, are also explained, with reference to Hugo's "Boaz Asleep."

00:00 - Chapter 1. Peter Brooks and Lacan
09:03 - Chapter 2. Lacan and Freudian Scholarship
15:51 - Chapter 3. The Mirror Stage
22:18 - Chapter 4. Language and the Unconscious
30:25 - Chapter 5. Metonymy, Metaphor, and Desire
37:03 - Chapter 6. What Is Desire?
46:50 - Chapter 7. Slavoj Žižek

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://open.yale.edu/

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14. Influence

Introduction to Theory of Literature (ENGL 300)

In this lecture on the psyche in literary theory, Professor Paul Fry explores the work of T. S. Eliot and Harold Bloom, specifically their studies of tradition and individualism. Related and divergent perspectives on tradition, innovation, conservatism, and self-effacement are traced throughout Eliot's "Tradition and the Individual Talent" and Bloom's "Meditation upon Priority." Particular emphasis is placed on the process by which poets struggle with the literary legacies of their precursors. The relationship of Bloom's thinking, in particular, to Freud's Oedipus complex is duly noted. The lecture draws heavily from the works of Pope, Borges, Joyce, Homer, Wordsworth, Longinus, and Milton.

00:00 - Chapter 1. Introduction to Harold Bloom
06:31 - Chapter 2. Mimesis and Imitatio
11:51 - Chapter 3. Bloom "Misreads" Eliot
29:34 - Chapter 4: Literary History: the Always Already Written "Strong Poem"
48:09 - Chapter 5. Lacan and Bloom

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15. The Postmodern Psyche

Introduction to Theory of Literature (ENGL 300)

In this lecture on the postmodern psyche, Professor Paul Fry explores the work of Gilles Deleuze, and Felix Guattari. and Slavoj Žižek. The notion of the "postmodern" is defined through the use of examples in the visual arts and architecture. Deleuze and Guattari's theory of "rhizomatic" thinking and their intellectual debts are elucidated. Žižek's film criticism, focused on the relation between desire and need, is explored in connection with Lacan.

00:00 - Chapter 1. Žižek, Deleuze, and the Political
08:37 - Chapter 2. What Is Postmodernism?
16:22 - Chapter 3. Postmodernism, Doubt, and Vision
22:52 - Chapter 4. Dehumanization
28:31 - Chapter 5. Deleuze, Guattari, and Lacan
35:16 - Chapter 6. The Rhizome
39:25 - Chapter 7. Žižek
46:53 - Chapter 8. Holbein's The Ambassadors
50:08 - Chapter 9. Language and Desire

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://open.yale.edu/courses

This c

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16. The Social Permeability of Reader and Text

Introduction to Theory of Literature (ENGL 300)

In this first lecture on the theory of literature in social contexts, Professor Paul Fry examines the work of Mikhail Bakhtin and Hans Robert Jauss. The relation of their writing to formalist theory and the work of Barthes and Foucault is articulated. The dimensions of Bakhtin's heteroglossia, along with the idea of common language, are explored in detail through a close reading of the first sentence of Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice. Jauss's study of the history of reception is explicated with reference to Borges' "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote" and the Broadway revival of Damn Yankees.

00:00 - Chapter 1. Language in Social Context
09:32 - Chapter 2. Bakhtin, Jauss, and Formalism
22:01 - Chapter 3. Bakhtin and Authority
28:36 - Chapter 4. Pride and Prejudice
35:52 - Chapter 5. Common Language
40:02 - Chapter 6. Jauss and the History of Reception

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses webs

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17. The Frankfurt School of Critical Theory

Introduction to Theory of Literature (ENGL 300)

This first lecture on social theories of art and artistic production examines the Frankfurt School. The theoretical writings of Theodor Adorno and Walter Benjamin are explored in historical and political contexts, including Marxism, socialist realism, and late capitalism. The concept of mechanical reproduction, specifically the relationship between labor and art, is explained at some length. Adorno's opposition to this argument, and his own position, are explained. The lecture concludes with a discussion of Benjamin's perspective on the use of distraction and shock in the process of aesthetic revelation.

00:00 - Chapter 1. Marx, Engels, and Ideology
09:46 - Chapter 2. The Aesthetics of Marxist Criticism
19:58 - Chapter 3. Adorno, the Work of Art, and Collectivity
27:54 - Chapter 4. Bloch's Principle of Hope
31:09 - Chapter 5. Benjamin and Mechanical Reproduction
37:54 - Chapter 6. Adorno and Conformism
41:01 - Chapter 7. Benja

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18. The Political Unconscious

Introduction to Theory of Literature (ENGL 300)

In this lecture, Professor Paul Fry explores Fredric Jameson's seminal work, The Political Unconscious, as an outcropping of Marxist literary criticism and structural theory. Texts such as Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind" and Shakespeare's seventy-third sonnet are examined in the context of Jameson's three horizons of underlying interpretive frameworks--the political, the social, and the historical, each carefully explained. The extent to which those frameworks permeate individual thought is addressed in a discussion of Jameson's concept of the "ideologeme." The theorist's work is juxtaposed with the writings of Bakhtin and Levi-Strauss. The lecture concludes by revisiting the children's story Tony the Tow Truck, upon which Jameson's theory of literature is mapped.

00:00 - Chapter 1. Marxist Aesthetics and Frederic Jameson
07:42 - Chapter 2. Romance at the Three Horizons
22:18 - Chapter 3. The Political Unconscious at the Three Ho

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19. The New Historicism

Introduction to Theory of Literature (ENGL 300)

In this lecture, Professor Paul Fry examines the work of two seminal New Historicists, Stephen Greenblatt and Jerome McGann. The origins of New Historicism in Early Modern literary studies are explored, and New Historicism's common strategies, preferred evidence, and literary sites are explored. Greenblatt's reliance on Foucault is juxtaposed with McGann's use of Bakhtin. The lecture concludes with an extensive consideration of the project of editing of Keats's poetry in light of New Historicist concerns.

00:00 - Chapter 1. Origins of New Historicism
06:16 - Chapter 2. The New Historicist Method and Foucault
10:56 - Chapter 3. The Reciprocal Relationship Between History and Discourse
19:24 - Chapter 4. The Historian and Subjectivity
26:12 - Chapter 5. Jerome McGann and Bakhtin
30:28 - Chapter 6. McGann on Keats
45:54 - Chapter 7. Tony the Tow Truck Revisited

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses w

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20. The Classical Feminist Tradition

Introduction to Theory of Literature (ENGL 300)

In this lecture on feminist criticism, Professor Paul Fry uses Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own as a lens to and commentary on the flourishing of feminist criticism in the twentieth century. The structure and rhetoric of A Room of One's Own is extensively analyzed, as are its core considerations of female novelists such as Austen, Eliot, and the Brontës. The works of major feminist critics, such as Ann Douglas, Mary Ellman, Kate Millett, Elaine Showalter, and Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, are mentioned. The logocentric approach to gender theory, specifically the task of defining female language as something different and separate from male language, is considered alongside Woolf's own endorsement of literary and intellectual androgyny.

00:00 - Chapter 1. Transition into Feminist Theory: Tony the Tow Truck
06:35 - Chapter 2. Overlapping Identities
15:29 - Chapter 3. The Structure of A Room of One's Own
22:32 - Chapter 4. Fem