02.116DH The Word and the World: Introducing Literary Theory

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This course critically appraises the way we read. In our highly literate world, reading is a daily practice for most people – whether it is engaging a newspaper, a book, a report or postings on the social media. However, reading is not a passive process. People read a text according to certain assumptions and biases that they have.

For the most part, readers are unaware of such preconceived ideas. Yet, they go on to make decisions based on these. An awareness of the process of reading makes us more conscious of our assumptions and biases, leading us to make informed judgments or decisions on a daily basis. In other words, it can help us understand how a text was designed and how to better interpret it.

Designed for students with no prior knowledge of literary theory, this module aims to provide students with a basic understanding of how they can approach and interpret texts as a means of analysing them. To this end, students will be introduced to some important strategies for engaging with literary texts developed in the twentieth century and beyond, paying special attention to poststructuralist theories, their precursors and legacy.

In order to concretely understand how literary theory work, students will read literary texts and films alongside the theoretical material each week. They will be guided on how to apply a specific reading strategy to explore a text or film.

The sense of self-reflexivity of how we read is a transferable skill that students can use when interpreting not just literary texts but also events and problems.

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Nazry Bahrawi