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DepositIntroduction to Critical and Postcritical Reading (undergraduate course)

How and why do we read? And what is the relationship between academic reading and the reading we do for pleasure? This course is divided into two parts. The first part, on critical reading, surveys some of the most influential critical approaches in recent decades, including structuralism, Marxism, psychoanalysis, deconstruction, feminism, postcolonialism, and queer theory. In the second half, we will explore everyday experiences of reading that are either ignored or treated with suspicion in literary theory: 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 explore the similarities and differences between reading inside and outside the classroom and the emotional as well as intellectual dimensions of interpretation.

DepositReading Late Wyndham Lewis

Focused on the criticism of the later writings of Wyndham Lewis, this essay argues that Lewis’s response to the ruining of Enlightenment hopes and promises in the Great War resulted in impassioned polemics and fictions that interrogate the possibility of humanist resistance to the brutalities of modernity. Lewis continues to inspire unusually heated, combative critical exchanges, particularly regarding his notorious if fairly short-lived intellectual and political embrace of fascism. Defenses of Lewis’s late writing are easiest to make when one maintains some distance from the details of Lewis’s texts themselves. Focusing on the example of Jessica Burstein’s Cold Modernism and the kinds of reading enabled by her approach to Lewis’s work, this essay concludes with the suggestion that an “ahumanist,” “cold” Lewis may well be on the cusp of a new season of fruitful attention from the academy.