Critical Theory: Policies and Information

Course Description
In “Studies in English,” students explored basic questions about texts, genre, authorship, and the role of the reader in literary analysis.  “Critical Theory” seeks to build on that general introduction, and to acquaint students with specific modern and contemporary schools of literary theory including: Formalism, Reader Response, Psychoanalysis, Structuralism, Semiotics, Marxism, Poststructuralism, Feminism, Queer Theory, Postcolonial Theory, and New Historicism.  More importantly, students will begin to develop their own theoretical approach, informed by what they learn from reading important literary theorists.

Course Objectives

By the end of this course, you will:

  • understand the major fields of modern and contemporary literary theory;
  • be able to read difficult texts by literary theorists and identify in them major themes and questions that relate to foundational theoretical ideas;
  • be able to read in multiple ways: as a close reader, a philosopher, and a theory practitioner;
  • have strategies for digital reading and annotation, and the beginnings of an assessment of the pros and cons of electronic texts;
  • understand the open-access movement in education, including the push for OERs in higher ed, and be able to articulate connections between the theory in the course and the theory at the center of this movement;
  • have developed an informed opinion about the role of literary criticism in making textual meaning;
  • have developed a personal theoretical orientation that is in dialogue with contemporary literary theory;
  • have achieved outcomes related to your work and to this field that I could not have anticipated at the outset of our course.


We will develop our plans for grading and assignments together as a class at the beginning of the semester.  Here are some possibilities:

Required Texts

None to purchase.  This class is working towards open-access, which means that most of your materials will be freely accessible in digital form.  Please consult the schedule of readings for complete information on each required text, including how to access it and whether or not it is an OER (Open Educational Resource).  To learn more about OER,, you can watch this video:

You can also read more about open-access education at my blog:

Academic Integrity
You must adhere to the Academic Integrity policy as outlined in the PSU Academic Catalog.  Anyone violating this policy will be reported to the English Department chair, and then sent before the Academic Integrity panel for a hearing.  Here are the basics of what I expect, in addition to full compliance with this policy:

  • all work is your own;

  • if you get information or ideas from books, articles, the internet, or interviews with live people, you need to cite that information or those ideas using MLA style;

  • you may not purchase papers and turn them in as your own work;

  • you may not turn in a paper that you yourself wrote for an assignment for a different class;

  • all presentations and Powerpoints must also include citations.

Plymouth State University is committed to providing students with documented disabilities equal access to all university programs and facilities. If you think you have a disability requiring accommodations, you should immediately contact the PASS Office in Lamson Library (535-2270) to determine whether you are eligible for such accommodations. Academic accommodations will only be considered for students who have registered with the PASS Office. If you have a Letter of Accommodation for this course from the PASS Office, please provide the instructor with that information privately so that you and the instructor can review those accommodations.


Miss two.  That’s it. Don’t be late cuz it’s rude, but sometimes you might have to be.