ENGL 483 *01: Theory of Literary Criticism: Theory in a Digital World (Boyle)
In this course we take on the principal problems associated with how we revise, represent, and reproduce cultural, linguistic and literary knowledge. Since this course rangesacross a vast historical spectrum, serving as both an introduction to and a survey of the principal texts of literary and cultural theory, we will resort to direct engagement with themes, objects, attitudes, and textual performances. The course will be organized around modules that will employ literature, films, advertisements, comics, videogames, poems, VR devices, found objects, and bathroom slogans. The fall 2016 course edition will pay particular attention to how mediation, digital culture, and what we might call the “accelerationism” associated with living in a world of virtual immediacy deflects or deforms the theoretical project. We will approach theory as first and foremost an attempt at action in the world — and we will respect its call to action and eschew the notion that theory is too difficult, too abstract, or too remote. We will also play with these ideas and texts. We will play hard. Because, as one important contemporary theorist reminds us, when theory becomes something rigorously "known," locked within some singular claim to expertise and "institutional closure," it simply stops being theory. Classes that are not discussions are boring. So plan for an experience filled with lots of voices, multimedia, some disagreements, and at least one pizza.