Sep 17, 2002

class I wish I could take

Doing Things With Theory
D. Thomas
TTh 8:30-104199 AH (3 Credits)

This course proposes that we should try to have an account of what we hope to “do” with theory even as we begin to learn theory. We will examine an array of theory styles with a guiding question in mind: what ideas about personal and social action are announced or implied there? This program bears on our work as a group and on the individual work of each student.
The group will work to develop a common sense of the breaking points in debates over some key theory concepts, such as agency, practice and ideology.
In so doing, the course will cover many of the bases treated in most theory introductions — acquainting students with an array of problems, schools and vocabularies at hand in current literary study.
Indeed, we will study a number of “schools” — cultural studies, new historicism, pragmatism, neoformalism, normativity theory, democratic theory — and the questions that tend to define schools — agency, the literary, sociality, and the relation of examples to general claims, to name a few. But our efforts will not be directed principally at rendering any comprehensive survey. Instead, the readings are ordered to facilitate our thinking about profoundly differing accounts of what, if anything, theory is able to “do.”
Some likely authors: Foucault, Habermas, Bourdieu, Appiah, Gallagher and Greenblatt, Fish, Nussbaum.