ENGL 2600-001 Critical Introduction to Literature
    Study Questions


Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten
Chapter Eleven
Chapter Twelve
Chapter Thirteen
Chapter Fourteen
Awakening The Novel
Feminism & Awakening
Gender & Awakening
New Historical & Awakening
Deconstruction and the Awakening
Combined Perspective







Questions for Consideration Beginning Theory Chapter One

 

1.               Describe the organization of the University system in England from the medieval period until the 1800s.

 

2.               Explain how, when, and why English Studies emerged in the University System.

 

3.               For what reasons were some people and colleges suspicious of English Studies?

 

4.               Briefly explain APractical Criticism@ and why it is important.

 

5.               Explain how one goes about doing a AClose Reading@ of a text.

 

6.               What is excluded /included while interpresting using AClose Reading?@

 

7.               What is ALiberal Humanism?@  What is it a reaction Against?

 

8.               Name and explain some of the tenents of ALiberal Humanism.@

 

9.               What is the Job of the AWriter,@ the ACritic,@ and ALiterature@ within Liberal Humanism?

 

10.            What do critics mean when they say the purpose of literature is to Ateach and delight?@  Where do these ideas originate?

 

11.            How and why do attitudes toward the best type of criticism change from one age to the next?                                

 

12.            What was/is Percy Shelley=s attitude toward the purpose of literature?

 

13.            Name some of the important figures of Liberal humanism and why they are important?

 

14.            What is Adissociation of sensibility?@  Why is it useful for New Criticism?

 

15.            What is Aimpersonality?@  Why is it useful for New Criticism?

 

16.            What is the Aobjective correlative?@  Why is it useful for New Criticism?

 

17.            What might a AClose Reading@ of AThe Oval Portrait@ discuss?  Why?

 

18.            Name five types of Criticism the developed from Humanism.  Tell me something you know about they.

 

19.            What are some recurrent ideas in critical theory?

 

20.            Explain why Barry would list these to sum up modern theory: APolitics is pervasive,@ ALanguage is Constitutive,@ ATruth is Provisional,@ Meaning is Contingent,@ and AHuman Nature is a Myth.@



Chapter Two questions for Consideration

 

1.               Explain how the Astructure@of texts is an important part of Astructuralism.@

 

2.               What do structuralists mean by AMeaning is always >outside= the text?@

 

3.               How is understanding the genre of a text important to understanding its meaning?

 

4.               How does structuralism differ from Aliberal humanism?@

 

5.               What does Saussure say about the nature of Athe sign?@

 

6.               How does language have meaning for Saussure?

 

7.               Provide an example of how Saussure would find meaning in a word or Asign?@

 

8.               For Saussure, what is the relationship between language and ATruth?@ Why is it that way?

 

9.               Why does Saussure posit that meaning is created by difference?  Why might someone object?

 

10.            What are some areas/disciplines where structuralist analysis has been applied?  Explain how.

 

11.            How is structuralism @rule@ based?

 

12.            Explain Barthes contribution to Structuralism.

 

13.            What are some techniques structuralists use?  (What do Structuralists do?)

 

14.            Offer a brief structuralist analysis of Poe’s Story.

 

15.            Can a structuralist reading different than #15, or what=s in the book, be valid?  Why?  Why not?

 

16.            What does the example of the ACloze@ (NOT Aclose@) reading show about texts?



Questions for Consideration Chapter 3

 

 

1.               In what ways is Post-structuralism a continuation of the ideas of Structuralism?

 

2.               In what ways is Post-structuralism a reaction against the ideas of Structuralism? 

 

3.               In what ways is Adecentering@ an important concept?  What does it mean?

 

4.               Explain some of Post-structuralism=s anxiety about language and meaning.

 

5.               How are structuralism and post-structuralism similar and different with regards to origins?

 

6.               How are structuralism and post-structuralism similar and different with regards to Tone and style?

 

7.               How are structuralism and post-structuralism similar and different with regards to their attitudes toward language?

 

8.               How are structuralism and post-structuralism similar and different with regards to their fundamental aims?

 

9.               What doe the death of the author mean and how is it important?

 

10.            How is deconstruction a purposeful dismantling of the text?

 

11.            How is the concept of Afree play@ important to deconstruction?

 

12.            How and why are absolutes brought into question by post-structuralism?

 

13.            What does Derrida mean by AThere is nothing outside the text?@

 

14.            How does deconstruction read the Anot said@ or the Aunconscious@ of the text?

 

15.            What does oppositional reading entail?

 

16.            What are Agaps,@ Abreaks,@ Afaults,@ and Afissures@ how are they important to post-structuralism?

 

17.            Provide some ideas about a deconstructive reading for Appendix 2 or 3?

 

18.            Why does Barry say deconstructive readings make all texts similar?  What does he mean?

 



Questions for Consideration from Chapter Four

 

 

1.               What is Modernism?

 

 

2.               What is Postmodernism?

 

 

3.               Is Postmodernism a rejection of Modernism, an extension of it, both?

 

 

4.               In what ways is Modernism nostalgic?

 

 

5.               How are the differences between Modernism and Postmodernism ones that could be characterized by Atone,@ Amood,@ or Aattitude?@

 

 

6.               How is the AAge of Reason@ or the Enlightenment related to Modernist thinking?

 

 

7.               What does Lyotard mean by Metanarratives or AGrand Narratives?@  How are they postmodern?

 

 

8.               Discuss Baudrillard=s belief that distinctions between surface and depth don=t exist.

 

 

9.               Define and explain the four stages of the sign in Baudrillard.

 

 

10.            How and why has the Real ceased to exist?

 

 

11.            What are the main things that Postmodernists do?

 

 

12.            What is the difference/relationship between post-structural and postmodern?

 

 

13.            Explain how ALanguage Games@ from Wittgenstein via Nealon relate to postmodernism.

 

 

14.            What is Ahyperreality@ and/or Asimulacrum?@                      



Questions for Consideration of Chapter Five

 

 

1.               What similarities make psychoanalysis applicable ti literary criticism?

 

2.               Explain Freud=s three part model of the Psyche.

 

3.               Explain repression and sublimation.

 

4.               Explain the importance of infantile sexuality and the Oedipus complex.

 

5.               Describe and explain a few varieties of defense mechanism.

 

6.               How and why are dreams like literary texts?

 

7.               How do feminist critics explain Freud=s statements about women? 

 

8.               How might one psychoanalyze a text, author, or character?

 

9.               What does Lacan mean by the unconscious being the Anucleus of out being@?

 

10.            How is the unconscious structured like a language?  Why is this important?

 

11.            Lacan finds that even in Freud=s work there are seeds of the unconscious being like language.  Explain.

 

12.            How does Lacan redefine the concept of ASelf@ and call many assumptions about it into question?                                    

 

13.            Explain the symbolic order and how it is essential to Lacan.

 

14.            What are the similarities between Lacanian=s and Freudian=s.

 

15.            What are the difference between Lacanian=s and Freudian=s.                                  

 

16.            Explain Lacan=s reading of  AThe Purloined Letter.@

 



Questions for Consideration Chapter 6

 

 

1.               What texts does Barry cite as precursors to 1960s feminism?

 

2.               Why might feminists study images of women as depicted in texts?

 

3.               Distinguish between: feminism, female, and feminine.

 

4.               How are French, American and British feminism different?

 

5.               What are gynotexts and why are they studied?

 

6.               What are the three main distinctions in feminist criticism since the 1970s?

 

7.               How are French feminists indebted to Lacan and Saussure?

 

8.               What is ecriture feminine ?  Why is it important?

 

9.               Explain Kristeva=s distinction between the symbolic and the semiotic.

 

10.            How and why is Asocial castration@ a useful phrase for feminists?

 

11.            In what ways is American feminism indebted to Liberal Humanism?

 

12.            How is gender identity a social construct?

 

13.            What do Feminist critics do?

 

14.            Provide an example of how one might do a feminist reading of some text.





Questions for Consideration from Chapter 7

 

 

1.               Why relate Gay and Lesbian Criticism to Feminism?

 

2.               What does Gay and Lesbian criticism emphasize?

 

3.               How is/was lesbian criticism an extension of feminist criticism?

 

4.               What is a Alesbian continuum@ and how does it augment queer theory?

 

5.               How does gay and lesbian criticism risk essentializing or universalizing queerness?

 

6.               What are the risks and benefits of the idea in  #5?

 

7.               How does Queer theory rely on deconstructive techniques?

 

8.               In what ways is Aidentity@ an important and controversial issue in Queer Studies?

 

9.               How are political consequences supported and also endangered differently by different emphases of Queer theory?

 

10.            What is a Queer Text?

 

11.            How are Aotherness,@ Aliminality@ and Aboundaries@ important Queer concepts?

 

12.            Why does Queer theory favor postmodern texts?

 

13.            How is Queer theory anti-realist?  Why?

 

14.            Explain the six things Barry claims Queer theorists do.

 

 

Questions for Consideration on Chapter 8

 

 

1.               Define CommunismBaccording to Marx and Engels.

 

2.               What does it mean that AMarxism is a materialist philosophy?@

 

3.               How does Marxism differ from most other philosophies?

 

4.               Explain Alienation and  Reification as it relates to industrial workers.

 

5.               How and why does Marxism draw upon Hegel=s idea of Adialectic?@

 

6.               Explain Base and Superstructure?

 

7.               What is economic determinism and how is it related to Marxism?

 

8.               How and Why is Aideology@ an essential term within Marxist Criticism?

 

9.               How can the form of a work be influenced by ideology?

 

10.            Why might critics claim that Marxism only uses history in a generalized way?

 

11.            What is ALeninist@ literary criticism? Why was it implemented?

 

12.            What is AEngelsian@ literary criticism? Why was it implemented?

 

13.            What is defamiliarization?  How is it important to Marxism?

 

14.            Explain the distinction between AStory@ and APlot.@

 

15.            What is the alienation effect and how is it important?

 

16.            Explain Aoverdeterminism@ and Arelative autonomy@ from an Althusserian position.

 

17.            Explain AIdeology@ and AHegemony@ and there similarities?

 

18.            What does Althusser mean by Interpellation?  What does it help to explain?

 

19.            What elements of Jameson=s Marxism could be said to be influence by  psychoanalysis?

 

20.            How is cultural materialism an extension of Marxism?

 

21.            What do Marxist critics do?






Questions for Consideration Chapter Nine

 

 

1.               Define New Historicism.

 

2.               Explain new historicist=s use of historical documents.

 

3.               Distinguish between Aold@ historicism and new historicism.

 

4.               What ideas does New Historicism owe to Foucault?

 

5.               Define and explain Adiscursive practices.@

 

6.               What are some advantages and disadvantages of new historicism?

 

7.               How do New historicists defamiliarize literary texts?

 

8.               How do new historicist readings reveal the power of the State?

 

9.               How do new historicist readings reveal the way a text Acreates the culture by which it is created, shapes the fantasies by which it is shaped?@

 

10.            Provide and explain an example of a new historicist reading.

 

11.            Define Cultural materialism.

 

12.            Compare and contrast New historicism and cultural materialism.

 

13.            Explain the four characteristics of cultural materialism according to Jonathan Dollimore.

 

14.            What are the similarities and differences between cultural materialism and Marxism?

 

15.            How do the time periods which cultural materialism and hew historicism differ?

 

16.            Why might Barry see cultural materialism as more optimistic than new historicism?

 

17.            Why does cultural materialism more often focus the traditional literary canon.

 

18.            Explain how one might do a cultural materialist reading.

 

19.            How and why are new historicism and cultural materialism more novelistic than many forms of criticism?





Questions for Consideration on Chapter 10

 

 

1.               How does Postcolonial criticism undermine some of the assertions of Liberal Humanism?

 

2.               What are the first two steps for colonized peoples to develop a postcolonial perspective?

 

3.               How does Edward Said use the concept of Orientalism to pinpoint postcolonial concerns?

 

4.               How is the concept of AOther@ important to understanding postcolonialism?

 

5.               Why do some postcolonial writers reject uses of traditional language?

 

6.               How might postcolonial writers/critics be said to have a Adouble identity@?  How/why?

 

7.               How is unstable identity tied up with postcolonialism?

 

8.               Explain how AAdopt,@ AAdapt,@ and AAdept@ relate to postcolonial development.

 

9.               Barry distinguishes between two different styles of postcolonialism (Bhabba vs. Said). Explain.

 

10.            Relate the two varieties to distinctions in Feminism.

 

11.            What do Postcolonial critics do?

 

12.            Explain how one might go about offering a postcolonial reading of a text.


Study Questions for Barry Chapter 12: Narratology


1.    What is Narratology? 
2.    Why would one use it?
3.    What is the difference between story and plot?  How is the difference important?
4.    What is Aristotle’s contribution to Narratology?  How is it important?
5.    Describe the importance of Harmatia, Anagnorisis, and Peripetia?
6.    What is Vladimir Propp’s contribution to Narratology and how is it important?
7.    How do Propp’s 31 Functions work?  What do you find noteworthy abut them?
8.    How are his “spjeres of action” important?
9.    What is the difference between Genette’s Narratological structure and Propp’s and Aristotle’s.
10.    What is the difference between internal and external focalisation? How is the difference important?
11.    What is the difference between a narrator and an author? How is the difference important?
12.    What is the difference between a heterodiegetic Narator and a homodiegetic one? How is the difference important?
13.    What is the difference between prolepti handling of time and analeptic? How is the difference important?
14.    What are the three types of narrative frame and how are they useful?
15.    How does Genette’s structure explain narrative intrusions?
16.    What is the  difference between reported and direct speech? How is the difference important?
17.    What important differences does Narratology have from other criticisms?
18.    How and why might you personally use narratology?


Study Questions on Chapter 13: EcoCriticism

        1.    Offer a definition of Ecocriticism based upon your reading of the chapter.
2.    Why is it difficult to define Ecocriticism
3.    What are the differences between American and British Ecocritics?
4.    How is American ecocriticism indebted to the Transcendentalists? Explain.
5.    In what ways does ecocriticism differ from other criticisms we have studied?
6.    How is nature not a cultural construct?
7.    What is Alan Liu’s argument about Nature and how is it responded to by ecocritics?
8.    How and why does Barry use age as a metaphor for some of the disputes within ecocriticism?
9.    What are the 4 Environmental Areas used by ecocriticism and how are they used?  Why?
10.      Explain how the statement “Nature exists” sums up some of the debates by ecocritics.
11.    What do ecocritics bring to texts and why?
12.    How might you perform an ecocritical reading?  What might you focus on?
13.    How is the distinction between an external asnd internal focus used by Ecocritics?
14.    How can ecocriticism be seen as a corrective to the pathetic fallacy?
15.    What are the five things Barry says Ecocritics Do?





Study Questions for Reading The Awakening

1.    What are the settings for The Awakening?  How are they important to understanding the story?
2.    Name three (at least) principal characters.  What are they like?  How are they important to the story?
3.    How is Creole/Cajun/Louisiana culture important to understanding the story?
4.    How is AClass@ an important issue in the story?
5.    How is propoerty and ownership important throughout the story?  How does it=s importance change?
6.    What is the relationship between Edna and her husband?  Where do you see tensions?
7.    There are numerous Aawakenings@(often of Edna) throughout the pieceBcan you name some?
8.    Why does Chopin use ocassional French phases?
9.    How is APropriety@ important to the people around Edna?  Why?
10.    What might Adele Ratignolle represent in the text?
11.    In what ways is Mr. Pontellier a Aperfect husband?@
12.    In what ways is Edna a Abad wife?@
13.    In what ways is Edna (early in the story) more repressed than the Characters around her?  Why?
14.    Why is it said that Creole=s are Anot jealous?@
15.    In what ways is the fact that Edna is learning to Swim important?
16.    What is important about Robert and Edna=S trip to the Cheniere?
17.    How is Edna=s relationship with Robert throughout the Novel important?
18.    How is Edna=s relationship with Madame Reisz  throughout the Novel important?
19.    How is Edna=s relationship with her children throughout the Novel important?
20.    How and why is Edna=s painting important?
21.    How does the Summer at Grande Isle influence Edna?
22.    How are Mr and Mrs Ratinolle the Aperfect Couple?@ Are they?  Why?
23.    What are some reasons that Leonce Pontellier goes out of town?
24.    Why does Edna rent a cottage?
25.    How is Edna=s relationship with Arobin throughout the Novel important?
26.    Why does Edna give a Party ?  What is the significance?
27.    How is Roberts departure and return from Mexico important to the story?
28.    How is Edna=s childhood and family important to understanding the story?
29.    Why is Doctor Madelet an important character?  Why?
30.    How is this a story about Freedom?
31.    How is this a story about Privilege?
32.    How is this a story about Propriety?
33.    How is this a story about Art?
34.    How is it a story about sexism?
35.    How is this a story about Family?
36.    For what reasons where people of its day shocked by this Novel?
37.    How is this a story about self expression?

 



Feminism on Awakening

1.    How is the subtitle Aa Solitary Soul@ important in many different ways?
2.    How has the banning/restricting/suppressing of the book affected it and feminist writing in general, according to Showalter?
3.    How is the novel about the birth of an artist?  Why is that important to feminism?
4.    What different images of women is Chopin working with?  Where did they come from?  How is she changing them?
5.    How is the novel about the Aterra incognita@ (unknown land?) Of women=s lives?
6.    How is the concept of a female colony important to Edna=s self discovery?  How are the bonds between women important?
7.    How are Reisz and Adele important to Showalter=s reading?
8.    What are some different interpretations of Edna=s death and what attitudes do they support?
9.    Why did Edna marry Leonce?  How is he responsible for some of her problems?  Why is the passionlessness of their relationship important?  Would passion make a difference?
10.    How is this story about sexuality?  Delineate specific ways that it is.
11.    How is Kate Chopin like and not like Edna?  How are these differences and similarities important?




Gender And The Awakening

  •    How is Gender Studies different from Feminism?  (Lots of ways)
  •    What are the commonalities between Feminism and Gender Studies?
  •    How is it that Society trains one to one=s gender and what are the effects of this?
  •    How and why is Gender Studies interested in the Hetero/Homo-sexual binary?
  •     Why are some homosexual critics essentialist and how does that affect gender studies?  


The essay
  •    How is The Awakening a lesbian text?
  •    What is a metaphorical lesbian and how does LeBlanc use this distinction in her essay?
  •    How is the novel a reaction against compulsory heterosexuality?
  •    How is Edna a metaphorical lesbian?
  •     How do Edna=s struggles with language set her apart, according to LeBlanc?
  •     How is the concept of construction of Space important to metaphorical lesbians and Edna?
  •    Why should gender critics dissociate Awomen@ from Awoman@?
  •    What forces and characters support the lesbian continuum in the novel?
  •    How is Robert the same as EdnaBhow does this aid our metaphorical Lesbian reading?
  •   How is the Sea Edna=s lesbian lover?






New Historical and The Awakening

1.    Explain the difference between Old and New Historicism.
2.    Distinguish between New Historicism and Cultural Materialism.
3.    Why is it important that New Historicism is unsure of itself?
4.    Explain how Foucault viewed power?
5.    How can Foucault=s stance be seen as optimistic?
6.    Explain some of Greenblatt=s contribution to New Historicism.
7.    Why is Foucault not really the father of New Historicism?
8.    What documents (historical) does Stange use to support her reading? How?
9.    How is the reading Marxist?  Why is it not Marxist?
10.    How is the reading a Feminist one?
11.    How and why are hands important to the reading?
12.    Why didn=t suffragists separate motherhood from womanhood?
13.    How is contraception and motherhood important?
14.    Why is surplus wealth an important concept here?
15.    How is an understanding of Adele important to this reading?
16.    How are women Asocial wealth@?  What are the repercussions of that?
17.    How does Edna come to own herself?  What commentary does that make on her society?
18.    How and why are children and childbirth important to Stange=s reading?
19.    Why doe 19th Century feminists not endorse birth control?
20.    How is motherhood a performance?  What is the meaning/importance of that performance?