Subject Area: English
The discipline of literary studies emerges not just from a set of canonical texts but also from an ongoing and vital series of debates about the nature, meaning and value of what we call literature. What is a classic, what is a hoax, what is obscene, and what is worthless? The aesthetic judgements we make about literary texts show how enmeshed literature is in the fabric of the contemporary world. This course will consider the relationship between literature as a creative act and literature as a public discourse. It will analyze literary culture from the perspective both of aesthetics and politics. It will encourage students to reflect upon the role of literary studies in the contemporary world by asking: How does literature contribute to a society’s public discourse about itself?