1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences



  • ENCR 3559 Theories of Reading

    1530-1645 MW - CABELL 122

    Instructor: Rita Felski

    Why and how do we read? And what is the relationship between academic styles of reading and the reading we do for pleasure? This course is divided into two parts. The first part, on critical reading, surveys the most influential forms of academic interpretation. We will examine the idea of reading as resistance, reading texts as sociopolitical allegories, reading as a structuralist, reading like Freud, reading deconstructively, and so on. In the second half, we will explore aspects of reading that are often ignored or treated with suspicion in literary theory:  experiences of identification and recognition; empathy; enchantment and self-loss; horror and shock; fandom and the pleasure of collective reading. The goal of the course is to encourage reflection on both the intellectual and the emotional dimensions of reading and the various ways in which these dimensions interact.

  • ENCR 4500 Race in American Places

    1830-2100 R - BRYAN 330

    Instructor: Ian Grandison


  • ENCR 4500 Feminist Theory

    1230-1345 TR - CABELL 431

    Instructor: Susan Fraiman

    An introduction to American feminist criticism and theory.  This course pairs novels and other works by women with theoretical essays in order to contrast diverse feminist approaches. I expect to explore such themes as looking/voyeurism, mother-daughter relations, mobility/migration, incarceration/escape, and conflicts/commonalities among women.  We will also broach such theoretical issues as how to narrate the development of feminist theory, the contributions of queer theory, the logic of canon formation, the meanings of third-wave feminism, and the way gender intersects with other axes of identity/analysis (race, sexuality, class, etc.).  Possible primary texts (still very tentative) include Jane Eyre, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, The Well of Loneliness, Zami, Mona in the Promised Land, a contemporary film, and a popular romance.  Probable theorists include Laura Mulvey, Eve Sedgwick, Susan Stanford Friedman, Chandra Mohanty, and Judith Butler, among a great many others.  5-page paper, 10-page paper, and a final exam.  Please contact me in advance if you would like to be put on my waiting list.

  • ENCR 5620 The History of Literary Criticism

    1400-1515 TR - CABELL 235

    Instructor: Walter Jost

    Much if not all of what currently goes under the name of “cultural studies” and “critical theory,” not to mention concepts like genre, period, author, literature, imagination, poetry and so on, cannot go far without feeling the tug of the extensive root system in which they are grounded in the “history of literary criticism” (terms whose meanings are themselves multivalent and historical). One cannot study everything at once, to be sure; but judicious selection among the major critical texts of our changing traditions can serve both to make one feel at home in his or her culture, and to help de-mystify (as well as organize) large swatches of contemporary literary thinking. Along with a range of poems, we read a variety of short primary works, from a Platonic dialogue and Aristotle’s Poetics to Sidney’s “Defense of Poetry” to Pater, Eliot, Greenblatt and Cavell; and selections from an extremely useful secondary volume, M. A. R. Habib’s A History of Literary Criticism and Theory (Blackwell, paperback). Our reading load is manageable, though it requires hard thinking; our reading list is exciting and varied; and our class discussions about our readings and how they might be applied take primary place in the design of the class. We will write papers, present research, gather examples, and learn to "go on" from others in new ways.

  • ENCR 5650 Books as Physical Objects

    1100-1215 MW - Harrison/Small Special Collections Library

    Instructor: David Vander Meulen

    We know the past chiefly through artifacts that survive, and books are among the most common of these objects. Besides conveying a text, each book also contains evidence of the circumstances of its manufacture, how its producers viewed it, and how its readers might have received it.  In considering what questions to ask of these mute objects, this course might be considered the "archaeology of printing"—that is, the identification, description, and interpretation of printed artifacts surviving from the past five centuries, as well as exploration of the critical theory that lies behind such an approach to texts. With attention to production processes, including the operation of the hand press, it will investigate ways of analyzing elements such as paper, typography, illustrations, binding, and organization of the constituent sections of a book.  The course will explore how a text is inevitably affected by the material conditions of its production and how an understanding of the physical processes by which it was formed can aid historical research in a variety of disciplines, not only those that treat verbal texts but also those that deal with printed music and works of visual art.  The class will draw extensively on the holdings of the University Library's Special Collections Department, as well as on its Hinman Collator (an early version of the one at the CIA).  Open to graduate students and advanced undergraduates.