From ED team:
"Below are suggestions for further discussion at all levels: forum, chat room, tutor or peer groups. They have been adapted from Teaching with the Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism (M. Keith Booker. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2001).
Give a brief account of what you understand by:
  • Poststructuralism.
  • Deconstruction.
  • New Historicism.
  • Cultural studies.
  • Feminism.
  • Gender studies.
  • Queer theory.
  • Post-colonial studies.
  • Race and ethnicity studies.
Note: you should attempt to explain the characteristics and underlying assumptions of each school.
  • Identify and discuss the main implications of poststructuralism for the study of literature.
  • In your opinion, what are the main strengths and weaknesses of poststructuralist analysis? Give examples from the work of critics you have read.
  • Identify some of the key arguments and conclusions made by feminist critics as a result of their study of literary texts by women.
  • How do feminist critics distinguish between sex as a biological category, on the one hand, and gender as a social construct, on the other. Summarize their arguments.
  • Some lesbian theorists have criticised feminist theorists for not including the lesbian point of view. Comment and discuss.
  • How does the role of the body in gender studies and queer theory resemble/differ from that attributed to the body in feminist studies?
  • Drawing on the work of critics such as Achebe, Said or Gates, say why you think it is important to read and explore texts by non-white and/or non-Western authors by using critical approaches that differ from those used to read and explore texts by white Western writers.
  • Comment on how the critical strategies of post-colonial, race and ethnicity studies may influence our reading of literary texts by white authors.

Note: *Model answers will be posted on the webpage as the course unfolds and will not be available at the beginning of the year. This is to encourage you to formulate your own responses – either individually, in class or together with your fellow students. If you provide written answers, try to keep to a 500 word limit.

  • STUDY BLOCK 1. Barthes writes: “The Text... asks of the reader a practical collaboration”. Apply this statement to Linda Pastan’s “love poem” —in other words, produce your own ‘practical collaboration’ with this particular text—.
  • STUDY BLOCK 2. How are women characterized in King Lear? Discuss how they conform to social and cultural stereotypes or, alternatively, how they resist them.
  • STUDY BLOCK 3. Explore the ways in which “women have always resisted male tyranny” (Adrienne Rich) in The Bluest Eye. Your reading should take account not only of women’s successful resistance, but also their failures.
  • STUDY BLOCK 4. Why does Chinua Achebe think Heart of Darkness is a racist text? Summarize his arguments.
  • Each question is linked to the contents of its corresponding Study Block.