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Introduction to Literary Studies / for Erasmus students

Class at Faculty of Arts |

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1. Introduction - current concepts of literature - M.H. Abrams's diagram of approaches to literature I

2. Figurative Language I - Metaphor, Metonymy, Synecdoche

3. Figurative Language II - Irony - verbal / dramatic / situational irony - intertextual irony - irony & authorial / interpretative strategies

4. Other Basic Concepts of Poetics - rhythm and metre - sound patterning, incl. rhyme

5. Genre - criteria of classification - classification on the basis of formal arrangement / theme or topic - function and use of genre

6. Narrative - story and narrative - narrative techniques / modes - meta-textual features of texts

7. Typology of Literary Theories - M.H. Abrams's diagram II - examples of literary theories - their advantages and limitations

8. Representation - mimesis: Plato, Aristotle - literature as representation of reality in language - literature in communication - types of representation according to semiologists (icon - index - symbol)

9. Author. Authorial Intention. Reader - author vs. narrator, authorial intention - New Criticism (the intentional fallacy) - "death of the author" (Barthes, Foucault) - death of the author = birth of the reader? - subjectivity vs. the model / ideal / informed reader - general features of the reading process

10. Signs & Structure - I - basic features of the structuralist approach (Saussure, Lévi-Strauss)

11. Signs & Structure - II - semiotics - post-structuralist critique of structuralism (Barthes, Derrida) SEMINAR Pilný:

1. Introductory

2. Poetics - I: Metaphor, Metonymy, Synecdoche R: William Shakespeare, "Sonnet 60"; Percy Bysshe Shelley, "Ozymandias"

3. Poetics - II: Irony R: Jonathan Swift, A Modest Proposal; William Shakespeare, "Sonnet 130"

4. Poetics - III: Metre, Rhyme, Verse R: John Donne, "Holy Sonnet No. 10"; William Blake, "The Clod and the Pebble"; Paul Muldoon, "The Coney"

5. Genre, Genre Expectations R: Angela Carter, "The Company of Wolves"

6. Narrative Strategies/ Figurative Language - I R: James Joyce, "The Sisters"

7. Narrative Strategies/ Figurative Language - II R: Samuel Beckett, "First Love"

8. Representation and Narrative Perspective R: D.H. Lawrence, "The Prussian Officer"

9. Representation and Narrative Perspective/ Discourses of Power R: Michael Ondaatje, "Don't Talk to Me about Matisse" (from Running in the Family)

10. Author and Intention R: Edgar Allan Poe, "The Raven", "The Philosophy of Composition"

11. Author and Reader R: Lawrence Sterne, Tristram Shandy, Vol. I, Ch. 1-14 Wallace:

1. Introduction, Course outline and requirements

2. Narrative: Theories of narrative structure; plots and stories

3. Narrative: Point of view and character

4. Narrative: Point of view and character

5. Narrative: Genre

6. Irony, Satire, Allegory

7. Poetry: Poetic form, rhyme and meter

8. Poetry: Poetic language and devices

9. Poetry: Poetic language and devices

10. Drama: Genre

11. Drama: Dramatic structure, naturalism, social messages

12. Test List of texts for discussion throughout the semester-readings will be announced in class from week to week: Auden, W.H. "If I Could Tell You" Austen, Jane Emma (page

1) Bunyan, John Pilgrim's Progress (extract to be specified) Donne, John "The Flea" Ibsen, Henrik A Doll's House Joyce, James "The Sisters" Joyce, James A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (page

1) Lavin, Mary "A Story with a Pattern" Orwell, George Animal Farm (Chapter

1) Plath, Sylvia "Metaphors" Roth, Philip Portnoy's Complaint (page

1) Shakespeare, William Hamlet (extracts to be specified) Shakespeare, William selected sonnets Shandy, Tristram (Vol. 1 Chapters 1-14) Shelley, PB "Ozymandias" Stoker, Bram Dracula (Chapters 1-3) Stoppard, Tom Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (extracts to be specified) Swift, Jonathan "A Modest Proposal," Swift, Jonathan Gulliver's Travels (Chapters 1, 4-6) Wordsworth, William "The Daffodils"




The course provides an introduction to some key terms of poetics and critical theory, discusses various approaches to reading and interpretation and provides the students with a basic knowledge of the realm of literary studies.


Aristotle, Poetics

Montgomery, M., et al., Ways of Reading

Green, K. and LeBihan, J., Critical Theory and Practice



The general aim of the seminar is to improve the students' reading and interpreting skills. The students are provided with an opportunity to test out in practice some of the knowledge gained from the lecture "Introduction to Literary Studies" and to discuss the critical terms they have acquainted themselves with. In addition, the seminar includes several sessions focused on the use of some more terms of poetics in the analysis of specific poems. Finally, formal properties of an academic essay will be discussed, which are then to be applied in the students' final written projects.


Aristotle, Poetics

Montgomery, M., et al., Ways of Reading

Green, K. and LeBihan, J., Critical Theory and Practice

A selection of shorter literary texts to be assigned at the beginning of the Semester.


Credit requirements consist of a written test focused on poetics and basic critical terms, and of a written essay of 1500-2000 words on an assigned topic. Attendance is mandatory.