The University of Texas of the Permian Basin
Theoretical Approaches to Literature
English 3300.501 – Fall 2014
Dr. Jason Lagapa
Office: MB 4110
Office Hours: M & W: 1:00-2:30; TH: 12:30-2:30
Office Phone: 552-2301
This course offers students an introduction to multiple theoretical approaches to the study of literature. Literary theory can perhaps be best understood as a method—a set of procedures and strategies—that a person might use to interpret a text. To facilitate an awareness of—and proficiency in—a variety of critical schools, the scope of the class will range from the first half of the twentieth century—the era of New Criticism—to current theoretical schools, like post-structuralism, postcolonial studies and postmodern theories. Learning these theories, however, will not be a sterile exercise nor will it occur in a vacuum: students will learn to put the theories into practice when reading works of poetry and fiction.
English 1302, and a 2000-level literature course are prerequisites for this course. If you have not fulfilled these prerequisites, you must take this course at a later time and after you have completed these required courses.
Develop complex and advanced reading and analytical skills
Write cohesive, organized essays which illustrate the tenets of a particular literary theory
Gain knowledge of various literary theories and schools of criticism
Learn research methods as well as fundamentals of MLA documentation
Standard 3.3 Candidates demonstrate their knowledge of the reading process
Standard 3.5.4 Candidates discover and learn a range of works of literary theory and criticism
Standard 3.7 Candidates demonstrate knowledge of research theory and criticism and an understanding of their effect on reading and interpretive approaches
Standard 4.4 Candidates create and sustain learning environments that promote respect for, and support of individual differences of ethnicity, race, language, culture, gender and ability
Cell phone Policy:
Please turn off and put away all cell phones.
Barry, Peter. Beginning Theory: an Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory. 3rd ed. New York:
Manchester UP, 2009.
Cain, William, ed. American Literature. Vol. 2. New York: Penguin Academics – Pearson / Longman, 2004.
Roth, Philip. The Ghost Writer. New York: Vintage – Random House, 1979.
Recommended Text for English Majors:
Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. New York: The Modern
Language Association of America, 7th ed., 2009.
Attending classes is mandatory. For the semester, there are 4 allowed absences. If you miss more than four classes, your semester grade will drop with each subsequent absence.
Student Conduct Policy:
UTPB’s policy for student behavior is as follows: “Classroom behavior should not interfere with the instructor’s ability to conduct the class or the ability of other students to learn from the instructional program (Code of Student Life). Unacceptable or disruptive behavior will not be tolerated. Students engaging in unacceptable behavior may be instructed to leave the classroom. Inappropriate behavior may result in disciplinary action or referral to the University’s Behavioral Intervention Team. This prohibition applies to all instructional forums, including electronic, classroom, labs, discussion groups, field trips, etc.”
Plagiarism and Scholastic Dishonesty:
Academic integrity is expected of every individual in the University. Plagiarism and cheating are not tolerated. Plagiarism is using words or ideas in a paper that are not your own and failing to designate these ideas or words as coming from another source besides yourself. This includes essays that are not written by you and also quotations and passages excerpted from other texts that are used in your essay and are not properly cited or documented. Plagiarism will result in a failure for the assignment and may result in failure of the course and expulsion from the university. If you have any questions about plagiarism, please see me. Also, please refer to the following website for further information, a detailed definition of cheating and the university policy on scholastic dishonesty.
I reserve the right to require students to turn in a copy of a paper in electronic form, whether as an e-mail attachment or a copy on a 3.5 computer disk to check for evidence of plagiarism.
The breakdown of the semester grade is as follows:
Essay 1: 20% (3 pages)
Essay 2: 25% (6 pages)
Essay 3: 30% (8-10 pages)
Class Participation: 5%
Final Exam 20%
All papers should be typed, double-spaced, with one-inch margins on all sides. You must use Times New Roman font, and a font size of 11 or 12. There is no penalty for going over the page requirement.
Policy for Late Papers:
Papers are due in class on the date indicated by the syllabus. Any papers turned in after the scheduled class period will be considered late and will be dropped one ½ grade, and subsequently one letter grade, for each calendar day after the due date.
Schedule of class assignments and readings:
Please note assignments and readings may be subject to change; any changes will be announced during class.
Key: BT: Beginning Theory: an Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory
AL: American Literature, Vol. 2
GW: The Ghost Writer
Week 1 Introduction and New Criticism
M 8/26 Introduction
W 8/28 Read handout on New Criticism; Read in AL: W.C. Williams, “The Young Housewife” 
H.D. “Oread” ; Robert Frost, “Desert Places” [403-4]
Week 2 New Criticism
M 9/2 No Class – Labor Day
W 9/4 Read in AL: Sarah Orne Jewett, “A White Heron” [126-34]
Read in AL: Denise Levertov, “In Mind” [1352-3]
[9/4: Last day to add a course]
Week 3 New Criticism
M 9/9 Read in AL: Robert Lowell, “Memories of West Street and Lepke” [1325-6] & Elizabeth
Bishop, “One Art” 
W 9/11 Read in AL: Bernard Malamud, “The Mourners” [870-6]; Claude McKay, “America” ;
Frank O’Hara, “The Day Lady Died” [1399-1400]
[9/11 Last day to drop a course without creating an academic record or withdraw from UTPB; last day to withdraw with a 100% refund]
Week 4 New Criticism / Psychoanalytic Criticism
M 9/16 Read in BT: 92-103; Read in AL: Sylvia Plath, “Daddy” [1443-5]; Yusef Komunyakaa, “Facing It” [1484-5]
W 9/18 Frank O’Hara, “To the Harbormaster” [1391-2]
Essay 1 Due
Week 5 Psychoanalytic Criticism
M 9/23 Read in AL: John Cheever, “The Enormous Radio” [860-9]
W 9/25 Read in AL: Ralph Ellison, “Battle Royal” [878-90]
M 9/30 Read in BT: 116-25; Read in AL: Adrienne Rich, “Diving Into the Wreck”; Linda Pastan,
“Marks” [1428-31; 1446]
W 10/2 No Class – Popular Culture Conference – South
Follow instructions for on-line assignment on BlackBoard
[10/4 last day to file for graduation]
Week 7 Feminist Theory / New Historicism and Marxist Criticism
M 10/7 Read in BT: 150-3; 155-61; Read in AL: Joyce Carol Oates, “Where Are You Going, Where
Have You Been?” [1020-34]
W 10/9 Read in AL: John Updike, “Separating” [960-70]
Week 8 New Historicism and Marxist Criticism continued
M 10/14 Read in BT: 166-73; Read in AL: Bobbie Ann Mason, “Shiloh” [1068-1080]
W 10/16 Read in AL: Philip Roth, “Defender of the Faith” [972-999]
Week 9 Postmodernist Theories / Deconstruction
M 10/21 Virtual Class – Complete Assignment on BlackBoard
W 10/23 Read in BT: Deconstruction [59-71]
Read in AL: Anne Tyler, “Holding Things Together” [1081-92]
Week 10 Theory into Practice: Philip Roth’s The Ghost Writer as Case Study
M 10/28 Read in BT: Postmodernism [78-88]
Essay 2 Due
W 10/30 Read in GW: 3-29
[10/31 last official day to drop or withdraw; instructor signature needed]
M 11/4 Read in GW: 29-44
W 11/6 Read in GW: 44-74
M 11/11 Read in GW: 75-99
W 11/13 Read in GW: 99-130
M 11/18 Read in GW: 130-55
W 11/20 Read in GW: 156-80
M 11/25 Read in AL: T.S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” [477-81]
W 11/27 No Class – Thanksgiving Break
M 12/2 Review for Final Exam and last preparations for Essay 3
W 12/4 Essay 3 Due
M 12/9 Final Exam: 2:45-4:45