The Language Game of Literature | Department of English

The Language Game of Literature

This course seeks to address some basic questions that pertain to the domain of the literary. Some of these are: what kinds of texts qualify as literature? Do literary texts possess some special, objectively demonstrable properties, or does the label merely connote some arbitrary social consensus? Moreover, do literary texts invite us to treat them differently, as compared to non-literary texts? Does the appreciation of a literary text, depending on whether it is a poem, a story, or a play, require us to pay attention to different kinds of textual phenomena? What precisely are those phenomena? The kinds of questions raised above will be addressed in this course as we immerse ourselves in a wide-ranging selection of texts drawn from the genres of poetry, fiction, and drama. The texts are chosen so that our engagement with each of them will illuminate some specific aspects of literary appreciation. Also, as we progress through this course, we will build a critical vocabulary that will enable us to express, with increasing perspicuity, our assessments of the literary merits of literary texts. (3:0:0). Prerequisites: none.

Primary Texts 

A selection of poems ranging across history and geography. The poems for study will be made available to the student either electronically or through handouts.

Drama: Henrik Ibsen, A Doll’s House (1879)

Fiction: A selection of short stories including:

“The Fall of the House of Usher,” Edgar Allen Poe (1839).

“The Yellow Wallpaper,” Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1892).

 “The Approach to Al-Mu’tasim,”  Jorge Luis Borges (1935). Trans. Anthony Kerrigan.

 “The Cathedral,” Raymond Carver (1983).

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