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Studies in Theory

Theory emphasizes the critical understanding of what we do, for instance, in order to read, view, understand, and write about literature and other media. Critical understanding means that we ask questions and seek answers about what makes such understanding possible, such questions as: What are reading and understanding? What is literature? What is the medium of film? of the visual? of the electronic? What are the forms of these media? It also means that we ask about the “we” engaged in understanding: for example, what constitutes the group, the community, the state, the nation? its gender? its sexuality? its race? What are its assumptions? What is its ideology?

This model provides an excellent basis for those who plan to attend graduate school and, given the kinds of critical and analytical thinking that studies in theory demand, for those who wish to attend other professional schools such as law.

I. Common Course:

  • ENG 3010 Theory & Practice of Modern Criticism

II. Advanced Courses in Theory – at least one of the following courses:

  • ENG 3011: Major Theorists
  • ENG 4015: Psychological Approaches to Criticism
  • LIT 4183 Postcolonial Literature, Culture & Theory
  • LIT 4554: Feminist Theory
  • SPC 4690: Rhetorical Criticism
  • Any special topics or honors course in theory (LIT 4930, ENG 4953, ENG 4936 as appropriate)

III. Theoretical Issues in Literary Forms – at least one of the following courses:

  • AML 4170 Studies in American Literary Forms
  • ENG 3115 Introduction to Film
  • ENG 4110 Genres, Directors & Periods
  • LIT 3003 Forms of Narrative

IV. Cultural Studies – two courses in cultural studies,

including those that focus on Difference and Cultural Production, and Technologies of Cultural Production. In selecting courses to fulfill this requirement, students are encouraged to examine the possibilities outlined in the Cultural Studies model and to consult each semester’s course listings.

V. Electives – five electives in literature and other media.

Students are urged to construct some form of diversity in the choice of courses in literature and other media. Students also may wish to organize their choice of supplementary courses around one of the other models.


Department of English faculty who regularly teach courses in this model include: