ENGL 3890      Fall 2011      LA 229     MW 1-2:30


Christa Albrecht-Crane, Ph.D.

Office: LA 126f

Office hours: MW 12-1, T 3-4

Office phone: 801.863.6286

Email: christaa@uvu.edu

Web: http://research.uvu.edu/albrecht-crane


Culler, Jonathan. Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. ISBN: 019285383x.

Martel, Yann. Life of Pi. Orlando, Fl: Harcourt, Inc., 2001. ISBN: 0156030209.

Articles/Essays: (These are available as pdf files below. You must print out all articles/essays and bring them all to class with you on the days of the assigned reading.)


Alvarez, Julia. "My English," Alvarez 1.pdf and "La Gringuita." Alvarez 2.pdfSomething to Declare. New York: Penguin, 1999.

Barth, John. "Autobiography: A Self-Recorded Fiction." Lost in the Funhouse. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1969. Barth.pdf

Barthes, Roland.  “The Death of an Author.” Image-Music-Text.  Trans. Stephen Heath. New York: Hill and Wang, 1977. 142-148. Death of the Author.pdf

Blanchot, Maurice. "Encountering the Imaginary," and "The Book to Come." The Book to Come. Trans. Charlotte Mandell. Stanford: Stanford U Press, 2002. Blanchot.pdf

Davis, Lydia. “Grammar Questions.” Harper’s Magazine Aug. 2002: 24+. Grammar Questions.pdf

Derrida, Jacques.  “The Exorbitant. Question of Method.” On Grammatology. 1967. Trans. Gayatri Spivak. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976. 157-164. Derrida.pdf

Foucault, Michel.  “What Is an Author?” Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews by Michel Foucault. Trans. Donald Bouchard and Sherry Simon. Ed. Donald Bouchard. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1977. 113-138. What is an author.pdf

Nietzsche, Friedrich. “On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense.” 1873. The Rhetorical Tradition: Readings from Classical Times to the Present.Eds. Patricia Bizzell and Bruce Herzberg. Boston, MA: Bedford Books, 1990. 888-896. Nietzsche.pdf

Sachs, Oliver. "Speed." The New Yorker 23 Aug. 2004: 60-69. Sacks.pdf

Terdiman, Richard. “Can We Read the Book of Love?” PMLA 126.6 (2011): 472-482. Print. TerdimanLove.pdf

Course Goals:

According to the UVSC course catalog, this course provides in-depth study of one contemporary theoretical and critical approach to literature using primary texts. It explicates how interpretive techniques function within the discipline of English Studies. Course work includes lectures, screenings, assigned readings, written reports, exams and a research essay that employs MLA documentation. This course is required for English majors and it should be taken beginning of junior year.


Students who finish this course successfully should master the following objectives:

  1. become familiar with the tenets of one major theoretical approach to literary theory  

  2. distinguish major theorists in contemporary theory in general, and in one major approach in particular

  3. practice reading cultural and literary texts according to one major theoretical approach  

  4. compose written analyses of cultural and literary texts using a specific theoretical approach and the conventions of MLA documentation  

  5. practice using a critical vocabulary persuasively in written and spoken discourse




Course Description:

Literary theory is complicated, but can be incredibly exhilarating. This course animates a few contemporary theoretical and critical concepts in an effort to clarify to what extent theory can afford us tools with which to better understand not only literature but also the worlds we live in.


This course focuses on more extensive treatments of two key theoretical approaches, namely poststructuralism and deconstruction, because (1) these two approaches are highly interdisciplinary in character and thus allow for exposure to a variety of theorists and methodologies, and (2) the bulk of contemporary theory (including other perspectives such as feminism, postcolonialism, race studies, cultural studies, and queer theory) borrow extensively from poststructural and deconstructive thought. Therefore, understanding these two approaches will make encounters with those other perspectives easier.

The course traces and marks moments of cultural and theoretical rupture that enabled these two approaches to take shape. Through close readings and discussion of key texts in poststructural theory and deconstruction, we will attempt to understand both what gave rise to these approaches as well as what they accomplish. 

In addition, we will also read one novel that forms a springboard for ideas, discussions, questions, further research, and possibly class papers. Overall, the course offers students an understanding of key concepts and approaches and a chance to reflect on their own literary, pedagogical, and critical interests.



Course Requirements:

Critical Analysis Papers

About every two weeks students prepare 2-3 page critical analysis papers (for a total of six papers), due at the beginning of class, in which they discuss the last two or three weeks’ readings, synthesize class discussions, voice questions about readings, and provide short analyses of the material. These papers need to be insightful, focused, and original. Most importantly, critical analysis papers should show that you have read all readings carefully and that you have engaged with the ideas presented in the readings and in class. I provide more details about my expectations for these papers under the “Assignments” tab above.


Final Paper

This final paper (minimum 6 pages) asks that you synthesize and elaborate on some of the concepts and ideas presented during the semester. This paper can be a more extended analysis or discussion of specific concepts we have studied, or it can be a creative exercise inspired by our readings.  Think of the paper as an opportunity to flesh out particular questions or issues that have come up and you find interesting or thought-provoking. 

An A paper will employ correct MLA documentation. 


Final Exam

UVU policy requires that each course ends with a final examination. The final exam in this course will take place during the scheduled exam period, Dec. 14, 2011, in the classroom. It will consist of a short, informal presentation about your final paper. You must attend the final exam to pass the course.

Participation and Attendance

Attendance is required. This course is structured around student participation and in-depth class discussions of readings. In addition, many assignments, instructions, and potential schedule changes are given in class. You will complete this class successfully and comfortably if you keep up your reading and writing, and if you come to class prepared to wrestle with the ideas presented in our readings. Students are expected to arrive on time. In case of an absence, it is the student’s responsibility to find out from a classmate what was covered in class. Students may miss three class periods but each additional absence will lower the course grade. I do not make a distinction between excused or unexcused absences.  A student with more than five absences cannot pass this course.

In-class Writing

In-class writing assignments will happen almost each meeting and constitute the written participation/attendance part of each student’s grade.  Every day we have class I will ask for brief in-class writings. Think about these writings as a series of reading quizzes and short response paragraphs.  Together, they will equal one hundred points by the end of the semester.  Grades given on in-class writing include a zero (not completed), a three (completed poorly), and a five (successfully completed). In-class writing cannot be made up on days when students miss class or arrive late.

Late Work

Generally, I do not accept late work or work turned in electronically in emails. I understand that life might interfere with completing a paper on time, so please talk to me early about any issues that might affect your performance in this course. I reserve the right to reduce the grade on the paper or critical response by half a grade for each day your work is late. In-class writings and the final exam cannot be made up.

Classroom Etiquette

In order to provide maximum benefits in this discussion-based course, I ask that you not use laptop computers or cell phones at any time during class. Class members should have a productive attitude and should treat each other with respect.



The final grade for this course will be determined as follows:


Critical Analysis Papers         375 points (75 points each)

Reading Quizzes                200 points

Final Paper                         150 points

Final Exam/Eval                  50 points

Participation                       150 points

Total                                    925 points

Grading Standards:

A = 93% and above

                C = 73-76%

A- = 90-92%

                C- = 70-73%

B+ = 87-89%

                D+ = 67-69%

B = 83-86%

                D = 63-66%

B- = 80-82%

                D- = 60-62%

C+ = 77-79%

                E = below 60%



Students with Disabilities:

If you have any disability impairing your ability to successfully complete this course, please contact the Accessibility Services Department (room BU-145). Academic Accommodations are granted for all students who have qualified documented disabilities. Services are coordinated with the student and instructor by the Accessibility Services Department.


 Academic Honesty:

The Statement from the UVSC “Students’ Rights and Responsibilities Code“ reads: “Each student is expected to maintain academic ethics and honesty in all its forms,” including cheating, plagiarism and falsification of information or data. Please read the complete "Student Rights and Responsibilities" section in the 2008-2009 UVSC catalog (pp. 29-33) so you are aware of your academic responsibilities.

With respect to this particular class plagiarism refers to knowingly copying another person’s work or ideas and calling them one’s own or not giving proper credit or citation.  This covers copying sections or entire papers from printed or electronic sources as well as handing in papers written by students for other classes or purchasing academic papers. Plagiarism and cheating are not only dishonest but they cheat you out of learning. You must submit your own work in this course.


The consequences for academic dishonesty are grave. The penalty for a first offense in an F for the assignment; a second offense means that you fail the course and will be reported to the Department Chair and to Student Advising.  If you have any questions about plagiarism, please talk to me.