This course has three aims: first, to introduce you to a wide range of questions and concepts from critical studies; second, to examine several of those concepts in detail; and, third, to offer you the chance to perform interpretative experiments with those concepts.
At the heart of this course is a set of questions about interpretation and textuality: What is a text? Why do texts need to be interpreted? How do we interpret them? What can we hope to gain from our interpretations? What questions about interpretation currently dominate cultural and critical studies? Over the course of the semester, we will examine a broad set of concepts related to these questions. Our heuristic model for this course will be the axiom (a term roughly synonymous with maxim, dictum, aphorism, motto, slogan, precept, and rule). We will approach each concept through an axiom or a small set of axioms. They will serve us as a (hopefully) memorable shorthand for concepts and a pathway into the field of theory.
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