English 500
Research Methods and Critical Methodology
M 4:40-7:30
 Dan Bivona
Office C339
Hrs. MW 2-4 and by appointment
Course Rationale:

This course has two major missions: 1) to introduce you to the basic tools that literary scholars and critics make use of and 2) to explore the possibilities for new work in the field of literary studies. Consequently, you will be expected to become familiar with both general tools and more specialized tools available to literary scholars, in the Hayden Library, on the WorldWide Web, and beyond. You will also be asked to develop some degree of familiarity with at least one recent school of critical theory and to produce both a bibliographic essay that surveys the work of the most important theorists within that school and a critical essay that explores some of the interpretive possibilities that the critical methodology you have chosen offers.

N.B. All students must have email accounts and be prepared to do some research work for the course on the WorldWide Web.


The following assignments are required:

 Assignment Percent of Final Grade
 Annotated Bibliography (literature) 15%
 Review of Criticism (literature: 8-10 pp.) 15%
 Bibliographic Essay (theory: 8-10 pp.)  15%
 In-class presentation (2: 1 theory; 1 literature)  10%
 Interpretive Essay (12-15 pp.) 20%
 Research Assignment 15%
 Class Participation 10%
The annotated bibliography and the review of criticism should be focused on the literary work(s) you have chosen as the center of your project. You may, if you wish, combine these two assignments in the form of a 20-25 page critical essay which locates your interpretation in relation to the most important criticism extant. The bibliographic essay will evaluate the major writings within the field of whatever theoretical school you choose to investigate. The in-class presentation will be your opportunity to outline how one might make practical use of the insights of your particular theoretical perspective to produce a new and interesting reading of the literary work(s) you have chosen as your focus.

Books (required):

Altick, Richard. The Art of Literary Research, 4th ed. Norton, 1992.
Green, Keith and Jill LeBihan, Critical Theory and Practice: A Coursebook. Routledge, 1992.
Defoe, Daniel. Moll Flanders. Viking, 1989.
Brontë, Emily. Wuthering Heights. NAL/Dutton, 1993.
Gissing, George. The Nether World. Oxford UP, 1992.
Woolf, Virginia. To the Lighthouse. Harcourt Brace, 1955.

These required books are now available at the ASU Bookstore. Green and LeBihan is located under the designation "English 200 -- Bivona."

You should become acquainted with and make use of the documentation conventions set out in Joseph Gibaldi's MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 4th ed. (New York: MLA, 1995). If you do not have a copy I recommend that you purchase one. For a usefully comprehensive overview of recent theory, see Critical Terms for Literary Study, eds. Frank Lentricchia and Thomas McLaughlin (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1990).


N.B. The first two Monday classes of each month will begin at 5:10 PM because I have Academic and CLAS Senate meetings on those afternoons.

Date, Topic, and Readings

M, 8/25:  Introduction to the course

M, 9/1:  No class -- Labor Day

M, 9/8: 5:10 PM
Library tour, Hayden Library
The scholar's materials: Altick and Fenstermaker, pp. 1-60 and 155-182
Linguistics/Stylistics/Speech Acts: Green and LeBihan, pp. 1-48

M, 9/15* 5:10 PM
First Research Assignment due.
Finding material and making notes: Altick and Fenstermaker, pp. 183-246
Structuralism: Green and LeBihan, pp. 49-90

M, 9/22: Scholarly Writing: Altick and Fenstermaker, pp. 219-257
New Historicism: Green and LeBihan, pp. 91-138

M, 9/29:  Discuss Defoe
Defoe, Moll Flanders
Psychoanalysis: Green and LeBihan, pp. 139-182

M, 10/6* 5:10
Second Research Assignment due.
Reader Response: Green and LeBihan, pp. 183-226

M, 10/13:  5:10
Discuss Brontë
Brontë, Wuthering Heights
Feminism and Sexualities: Green and LeBihan, pp. 227-270

M , 10/20:  Class presentations begin
Postcolonialism/Race and Ethnic Studies: Green and LeBihan, pp. 271-310

M, 10/27:  Class presentations
Discuss Gissing
Gissing, The Nether World

M, 11/3:  5:10
Class presentations

M, 11/10* 5:10
Class presentations
Bibliographic essays due
Discuss Woolf, To the Lighthouse

M, 11/17:  Class presentations

M, 11/24* Class presentations
Annotated bibliographies due

12/1:  5:10
Class presentations

12/8* 5:10
Class presentations
Review of Criticism and critical essays due.

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