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Literary Theory - Video

Literary Theory - Video

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24 - The Institutional Construction of Literary Study

In this lecture on critical identities, Professor Fry examines the work of Stanley Fish and John Guillory. The lecture begins by examining Tony the Tow Truck as a site for the emergence of literary identities, then brings the course's use of the children's story under scrutiny through the lens of Fish. The evolution of Fish's theory of interpretive communities is traced chronologically through his publications and examined in close-up in Milton's Paradise Lost. John Guillory's work on interpretive communities and the culture wars leads to a discussion of the Western canon and multiculturalism.

27 Oct 2009

Rank #1

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22 - Post-Colonial Criticism

In this lecture on post-colonial theory, Professor Paul Fry explores the work of Edward Said and Homi K. Bhabha. The complicated origins, definitions, and limitations of the term "post-colonial" are outlined. Elaine Showalter's theory of the phasic development of female literary identity is applied to the expression of post-colonial identities. Crucial terms such as ambivalence, hybridity, and double consciousness are explained. The relationship between Bhabha's concept of sly civility and Gates's "signifyin'" is discussed, along with the reliance of both on semiotics.

27 Oct 2009

Rank #2

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23 - Queer Theory and Gender Performativity

In this lecture on queer theory, Professor Paul Fry explores the work of Judith Butler in relation to Michel Foucault's History of Sexuality. Differences in terminology and methods are discussed, including Butler's emphasis on performance and Foucault's reliance on formulations such as "power-knowledge" and "the deployment of alliance." Butler's fixation with ontology is explored with reference to Levi-Strauss's concept of the raw and the cooked. At the lecture's conclusion, Butler's interrogation of identity politics is compared with that of postcolonial and African-American theorists.

27 Oct 2009

Rank #3

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20 - The Classical Feminist Tradition

In this lecture on feminist criticism, Professor Paul Fry uses Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own as a lens to and commentary on the flourishing of feminist criticism in the twentieth century. The structure and rhetoric of A Room of One's Own is extensively analyzed, as are its core considerations of female novelists such as Austen, Eliot, and the Brontës. The works of major feminist critics, such as Ann Douglas, Mary Ellman, Kate Millett, Elaine Showalter, and Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, are mentioned. The logocentric approach to gender theory, specifically the task of defining female language as something different and separate from male language, is considered alongside Woolf's own endorsement of literary and intellectual androgyny.

27 Oct 2009

Rank #4

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18 - The Political Unconscious

In this lecture, Professor Paul Fry explores Fredric Jameson's seminal work, The Political Unconscious, as an outcropping of Marxist literary criticism and structural theory. Texts such as Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind" and Shakespeare's seventy-third sonnet are examined in the context of Jameson's three horizons of underlying interpretive frameworks--the political, the social, and the historical, each carefully explained. The extent to which those frameworks permeate individual thought is addressed in a discussion of Jameson's concept of the "ideologeme." The theorist's work is juxtaposed with the writings of Bakhtin and Levi-Strauss. The lecture concludes by revisiting the children's story Tony the Tow Truck, upon which Jameson's theory of literature is mapped.

27 Oct 2009

Rank #5

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15 - The Postmodern Psyche

In this lecture on the postmodern psyche, Professor Paul Fry explores the work of Gilles Deleuze, and Felix Guattari. and Slavoj Žižek. The notion of the "postmodern" is defined through the use of examples in the visual arts and architecture. Deleuze and Guattari's theory of "rhizomatic" thinking and their intellectual debts are elucidated. Žižek's film criticism, focused on the relation between desire and need, is explored in connection with Lacan.

27 Oct 2009

Rank #6

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16 - The Social Permeability of Reader and Text

In this first lecture on the theory of literature in social contexts, Professor Paul Fry examines the work of Mikhail Bakhtin and Hans Robert Jauss. The relation of their writing to formalist theory and the work of Barthes and Foucault is articulated. The dimensions of Bakhtin's heteroglossia, along with the idea of common language, are explored in detail through a close reading of the first sentence of Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice. Jauss's study of the history of reception is explicated with reference to Borges' "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote" and the Broadway revival of Damn Yankees.

27 Oct 2009

Rank #7

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14 - Influence

In this lecture on the psyche in literary theory, Professor Paul Fry explores the work of T. S. Eliot and Harold Bloom, specifically their studies of tradition and individualism. Related and divergent perspectives on tradition, innovation, conservatism, and self-effacement are traced throughout Eliot's "Tradition and the Individual Talent" and Bloom's "Meditation upon Priority." Particular emphasis is placed on the process by which poets struggle with the literary legacies of their precursors. The relationship of Bloom's thinking, in particular, to Freud's Oedipus complex is duly noted. The lecture draws heavily from the works of Pope, Borges, Joyce, Homer, Wordsworth, Longinus, and Milton.

27 Oct 2009

Rank #8

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13 - Jacques Lacan in Theory

In this lecture on psychoanalytic criticism, Professor Paul Fry explores the work of Jacques Lacan. Lacan's interest in Freud and distaste for post-Freudian "ego psychologists" are briefly mentioned, and his clinical work on "the mirror stage" is discussed in depth. The relationship in Lacanian thought, between metaphor and metonymy is explored through the image of the point de capiton. The correlation between language and the unconscious, and the distinction between desire and need, are also explained, with reference to Hugo's "Boaz Asleep."

27 Oct 2009

Rank #9

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12 - Freud and Fiction

In this lecture, Professor Paul Fry turns his attention to the relationship between authorship and the psyche. Freud's meditations on the fundamental drives governing human behavior are read through the lens of literary critic Peter Brooks. The origins of Freud's work on the "pleasure principle" and his subsequent revision of it are charted, and the immediate and constant influence of Freudian thought on literary production is asserted. Brooks' contributions to literary theory are explored: particularly the coupling of multiple Freudian principles, including the pleasure principle and the death wish, and their application to narrative structures. At the lecture's conclusion, the professor returns to the children's story, Tony the Tow Truck, to suggest the universality of Brooks' argument.

27 Oct 2009

Rank #10