English 4775 Studies in Literary and Cultural Criticism and Theory: Imagination and Inquiry
Section 001 CRN 90838
Studies in Literary and Cultural Criticism and Theory: Imagination & Inquiry 0930-1045 TR
Critics and writers often speak of poems, novels, and plays as works of imagination, and in doing so they inevitably raise the question of what work the imagination does and how it goes about doing that work. If such work usually proceeds in a complex, systematic way, and yields something meaningful (a poem, for example), then an understanding of the function of imagination in literature is well worth pursuing.
This course is premised on the idea that a fundamental principle of Western thought is inquiry, and it also focuses on how imagination figures into the writing and reading of literature. What are the problems encountered in dealing with the imagination? William Carlos Williams says that "Imagination is not to avoid reality, nor is it description nor an evocation of objects or situations; it is to say that poetry does not tamper with the world but moves it." In our deliberations and discoveries, we, like Wallace Stevens, will engage in an imaginative search for "what will suffice."
We’ll read a wide variety of writers and theorists—ancient and modern—who have had something to say about the relations among inquiry, imagination, and literature. We’ll proceed in a seminar-format. We’ll read and write, and talk about that reading and writing. Other requirements include midterm (short) and final (long) essays. (Group 4)