Introduction to English literature 1

Course title: Introduction to English literature 1
Course coordinators: Dr. Vanja Polić, Assoc. Prof. and Dr. Sven Cvek, Assist. Prof.
Instructors: Cvek, Polić, Domines Veliki, Klepač, Tutek
ECTS credits: 4
Language: English
Duration: 1 (winter) semester
Status: obligatory
Course type: 1 hour of lecture and 1 hour of seminar

Course requirements: continuous assessment. For those students who have fulfilled all elements of continuous assessment but have not passed the midterm and/or endterm exams, three additional remedial dates will be organized (one in each term period).

Course description: This course offers a genealogical overview of the paradigms of literary theory from classical antiquity to the beginning of the twentieth century. Apart from describing the evolution of literary theory until its establishment as a formal discipline, the course also maps the development of English literature from the Anglo-Saxon period to the beginning of the twentieth century. It exposes students to British and American literary works from different historical periods and introduces them to the major literary movements and most influential authors.

Objective: The course is an introduction into various methodologies and theories in literary studies. The students are expected to develop close reading and analytical skills.

Student obligations: The final grade is based on continuous assessment which includes regular attendance (max. absences allowed: 4), preparation for and participation in class, obligatory sitting for midterm and endterm exams. Midterm and endterm exams are worth 50% and other elements of continuous assessment are worth 50% of the final grade. Students must fulfil all elements of continuous assessment to pass the course.

Weekly schedule:
Week 1
a. Course overview + student obligations
b. Problems of defining the object of study
Literature/literary theory/periodization

Week 2
a. Classical Greek Criticism
– poiesis; mimesis vs. diegesis; showing vs. telling; poiesis. vs philosophy; poiesis vs. history; rhetoric; allegory and allegorical interpretation; classical genres; drama
Plato. The Republic; Ion (extracts)
Aristotle. Poetics (extracts)
Heraclitus the Allegorist. Homeric Problems (extracts)
b. Classical Roman Criticism
– the Augustan Age; imitation; prescriptive vs. descriptive poetics; dulce et utile; translatio studii; art as craft;
Horace. Ars Poetica (extracts)

Week 3
The Middle Ages
– early vs. high vs. later Middle Ages; Christianity; vernacular literature; allegory and allegorical interpretation
Medieval poetics (extract)
Beowulf (OE; Anglo-Saxon worldview; alliterative verse) (extract)
Geoffrey Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales (ME, “middle world”; medieval genres; heroic couplet) (selection)

Week 4
Renaissance/Early Modern Period
– The Elizabethan Age (Shakespearean/English sonnet, Elizabethan drama); the Reformation; humanism; printing; discoveries of the New World; the new cosmos; belles-lettres
Sir Philip Sidney. Defence of Poesie
Shakespeare (any sonnet)

Week 5
a. The Seventeenth Century
– continuities and transformations in poetic theory; the metaphysical conceit as a literary procedure vs. metaphor as the most fundamental figure of speech
Francis Bacon, Advancement of Learning (selection)
John Donne “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning”; “The Flea” (selection)
George Herbert “Death”; “Man” (selection)
John Milton (selection)
b. The Neoclassical Period
– The Restoration vs. the Age of Pope vs. the Age of Johnson; art as craft; wit; decorum; verisimilitude; ancients and moderns (Swift); constitution of the novel (Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson, Henry Fielding, Jonathan Swift, Laurence Sterne etc)
Samuel Johnson “The Preface to Shakespeare”
Alexander Pope. “An Essay on Criticism” (extract)

Week 6
The Romantic Movement
– empiricist vs. idealist philosophy (Locke vs. Kant); imagination, the principle of organic form; the willing suspension of disbelief; American transcendentalism
William Wordsworth “Preface” Lyrical Ballads 2nd ed.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge Biographia Literaria (extract)
Ralph Waldo Emerson. “The Poet”; “Nature” (selection)

Week 7
The Victorian Period
– pre-Raphaelites vs. Victorian/Realist vs. Aestheticism and Decadence; realist novel (literary realism); text-based vs. idea-based criticism (Arnold vs. Pater)
Matthew Arnold “The Function of Criticism at the Present Time”
Oscar Wilde “Preface” The Picture of Dorian Gray

Week 8
Midterm exam

Week 9
New Criticism
– intrinsic/extrinsic; close-reading; I.A. Richards (metaphor)
T. S. Eliot “The Metaphysical Poets”, “Tradition and the Individual Talent” (selection)
Cleanth Brooks “The Well-Wrought Urn”
René Wellek and Austin Warren: Chapters “The Mode of Existence of a Literary Work of Art”; The Nature and Modes of Narrative Fiction” Theory of Literature (selection)

Week 10
Ferdinand de Saussure
structural linguistics; language/reality; structure; langue/parole, linguistic sign; arbitrariness; semiology/semiotics
“Course in General Linguistics” (extracts)

Week 11
Russian Formalism
– literary vs. poetic language; literariness; devices, estrangement/defamiliarization; laying bare; poetry, fabula/syzhet; the dominant
Viktor Shklovsky “Art as Technique”; Roman Jakobson “Linguistics and Poetics”; Boris Eichenbaum “Introduction to the Formal Method” (selection)

Week 12
– story/discourse; order/duration; frequency; setting; characters (Genette, Chatman)
*practical part (close-reading of a short story from British or American modernism)

Week 13
Narratology continued
– point of view /focalization; levels of focalization
*practical part (close-reading of a short story from British or American modernism)

Week 14
Endterm exam

Reading list:
 Shorter literary texts as selected by individual instructor (provided in class)
 John Peck and Martin Coyle. A Brief History of English Literature. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2002.
 M.H. Abrams, A Glossary of Literary Terms, 7th ed., New York: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1999 (1957).
 Peter Barry, Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory, Manchester/New York: Manchester University Press, 2002 (1995). (selection)
 Richard Harland, Literary Theory from Plato to Barthes. An Introduction History. Hamshire/New York: Palgrave, 1999. (selection)
 Seymour Chatman, Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film. Ithaca/London: Cornell University Press, 1980 (1978). (selection)