Frank Kermode, The
Harvard UP, 1979
King James Version of
Standard Version of the Bible
Lori Anne Ferrell, The Bible and the People
Yale UP, 2008
Plato, Republic (Waterfield trans.)
Oxford UP, 2008
Aristotle, Poetics, trans.
Gerald Else, Michigan UP, 1967
Charlaine Harris, Dead Until Dark
Shakespeare, The Tempest
Cambridge School Shakespeare, 1999
Jonathan Rose, The Intellectual Life of the British Working
Yale UP, 2001
than a tour through the mall of literary theory, this course
will take a particular path in the history of hermeneutics.
For the mall approach, you can read a wonderfully useful
The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism.
We will be exploring some salient questions about literary
theory that pertain to
groupings of texts from the Bible to the Sookie Stackhouse
series of novels. This exploration will require
digging, and a level of attention that might seem taxing
at times. We will ask some basic questions, such as
Kermode does in his book -- "Why are some narratives obscure?"
How are things hidden in writing? Is this always a secondary effect, or
are the psychoanalysts correct that we also (1) hide things,
like the truth, from ourselves, and/or (2) refuse to see? We will also think about the ways
in which ideology impacts our capacities for clear vision.
That is, we apparently have the capacity to live a grand
illusion, and not necessarily as a
is not a playful illustrative technique, but a form of
expression, just as speech is expression, and, indeed, just
as writing is." Walter Benjamin makes that declaration in
The Origin of
German Tragic Drama (162 in the standard translation).
As Renaissance authors used to say, confirming Benjamin's
point above, allegory is the captain of all rhetorical
figures of speech.
For that reason alone, the topic of allegory deserves our
attention. Part of the task involves developing distinctions among allegory, figuration,
metaphor, and symbol, and delving into epistemological and
political considerations (e.g., Plato's "Seventh Letter").
Part of the course will focus on a play that will be offered
this spring (April 23-26) on TWU's campus, The Tempest. We
will see that play, and I hope to arrange for all of us to
talk with the cast and the director about interpretive
choices they made for staging the play. In connection
with that, we will see some cinematic interpretations of the
text, and we will study why that Shakespearean work became a
focal point for a movement called New Historicism, and
How do people deal with words on a page? What happens
when we try to understand texts? How have the texts we
read come down to us? Which ones are binding on us,
and function as a kind of scripture?