Introduction to Literary Theory

A bookplate with a black and white illustration of Oedipus staring at a statue of a sphinx.

This bookplate from Sigmund Freud's library features a quote from Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, which reads, "… who knew the famed riddle, and was a man most mighty." Freud and Psychoanalysis are topics of discussion in this course. (Image courtesy of The Jewish Theological Society on flickr. License CC BY.)


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Fall 2014



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Course Description

This subject examines the ways in which we read. It introduces some important strategies for engaging with literary texts developed in the twentieth century, paying special attention to poststructuralist theories and their legacy. The course is organized around specific theoretical paradigms. In general, we will: (1) work through the selected readings in order to see how they construe what literary interpretation is; (2) locate the limits of each particular approach; and (3) trace the emergence of subsequent theoretical paradigms as responses to what came before.

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Shankar Raman. 21L.451 Introduction to Literary Theory. Fall 2014. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

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