“Books are to be call’d for, and supplied, on the assumption that the process of reading is not a half-sleep, but, in highest sense, an exercise, a gymnast’s struggle; that the reader is to do something for himself, must be on the alert, must himself or herself construct indeed the poem, argument, history, metaphysical essay—the text furnishing the hints, the clue, the start or framework. Not the book needs so much to be the complete thing, but the reader of the book does. That were to make a nation of supple and athletic minds, well-train’d, intuitive, used to depend on themselves, and not a few coteries of writers.”

—Walt Whitman, “Democratic Vistas”

The first course in a two-course introductory sequence to the English major, Literary Analysis is designed to develop interpretive skills, critical awareness and confidence in preparation for more advanced work in English and the humanities.

Literary Analysis invites students to read and discuss imaginative literature; become familiar with key terms, concepts, critical problems, and theoretical debates in English studies; and develop the habits of mind and skills to effectively analyze texts—especially through the process of writing. Students will also learn the protocols for writing with sources, in-text citation and compiling a list of works cited.

Close attention to imaginative writing, and engagement with the intellectual problems such writing presents, will lead you to consider key and contested terms in the discipline; the organization of the current-traditional discipline of English studies; the cultural role of English studies; new prospects in literary and cultural studies; ongoing transformations in the university library, including the fate of the monograph, popular and academic journals, special holdings and archives; changing conditions and expectations for research with the advent of web-based resources, including paper archives, wikis and other sources of electronic information; and the concept of intellectual property and its relation to community standards for academic honesty. These conversations will help you better understand your primary field of study in college as well as get the most out of your English courses.