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Criticism and Theory

This course is introductory, and aims to provide, or reinforce, a grounding in the methodology and history of the subject. The first-term lectures aim to introduce and exemplify some of the indispensable elements of a critical vocabulary. The first-term seminars offer the chance to put some of these elements into practice through commentary and analysis exercises, involving the detailed discussion of unseen passages of literature in various genres and from various periods. The second-term lectures offer a brief historical survey of different ideas of literary criticism and theory from the Renaissance to the present day; second-term seminars explore a selection of these ideas in further detail. Lectures and seminars across both terms aim to stimulate attentive and accurate close reading. Lectures focus on methodology in the first term, and history in the second; seminars in both terms aim to develop and consolidate the close reading skills crucial to the study of literature.