Literary Theory

Home/ Literary Theory
Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Discipline CoreSOL2EN3194

Semester and Year Offered: MA I & II Year

Course Coordinator: TBD

Email of course coordinator: 

Pre-requisites: None

Course Objectives/Description:

The course aims to investigate contemporary cultural and literary theory and sensitize students towards the “theoretical turn” and various theoretical positions, in the Indian context too, through a selection of representative texts and critical traditions. This course attempts to examine the status of literary theory in the study of literatures through intensive engagements with the ongoing debates, developments, controversies and discussions surrounding it. The course also looks at the functional aspect of literary theory and criticism, i.e. its application in the study literatures.

This course is divided in various modules comprising theoretical positions, schools and movements. Through class lectures, group discussions, and presentations, engagements with the following positions, movements and schools will be undertaken: Phenomenology, Hermeneutics, Russian Formalism and New Criticism, Marxism and Post-Marxism, Feminism and Queer Studies, Psychoanalysis, New Historicism and Cultural Materialism, Structuralism, Post-Structuralism and Deconstruction, Post-Modernism, Post-colonialism, Race and Ethnic Studies, Reader Response, and Cultural Studies. It also attempts to investigate Indian literary and critical traditions so as to trace a continuum in our understanding of texts and traditions.

Course Outcomes: On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate thorough understanding and knowledge literary theory through readings and class discussions.
  2. Show critical, reflective and analytical thinking through an examination of the verity and validity of various ways of interpretation and analyses.
  3. Reflect research related skills through familiarizing with the language of theory that depends on other disciplines like philosophy, psychology, sociology, etc..
  4. Illustrate commitments to lifelong learning by furthering the acquired knowledge of theoretical principles and ideas and apply them to the study of literature in a more informed, objective, and universal manner.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

  • Literary Theory and Literary Criticism
  • Tracing Indian Theoretical Tradition
  • “Theoretical Turn” and Other Discourses
  • Marxism and New Marxism
  • Feminism and the Theories of Gender
  • Colonialism and Post-Colonialism
  • Psychoanalysis and the Theories of Self
  • Structuralism, Poststructuralism, and Deconstruction
  • Modernism and Postmodernism
  • Cultural Studies

Assessment Details with weights:

S. No.




Class Assignment



Mid-semester Exam



Class Presentation



Term Paper



Question Bank



Reading List:

  • Aijaz Ahmad, "Postcolonialism: What's in a Name?"
  • Alan Sinfield “Cultural Materialism, Othello, and the Politics of Plausibility”
  • Antonio Gramsci, “The Formation of Intellectuals”
  • Boris Eichenbaum, From The Theory of the "Formal Method"
  • Catherine Gallagher “Marxism and the New Historicism”
  • Carl Gustav Jung, From On the Relation of Analytical Psychology to Poetry
  • Chandra Talpade Mohanty, “Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourse”
  • Cleanth Brooks “The Heresy of Paraphrase”
  • Edmund Wilson, “Marxism and Literature”
  • Edward Said, From Orientalism
  • Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, From Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire
  • Ferdinand de Saussure, From Course in General Linguistics
  • Frantz Fanon, From Black Skins, White Masks
  • Geogry Lukacs, “Realism in the Balance”
  • Gloria Anzaldua, From Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza
  • Hans Robert Jauss, From Literary History as a Challenge to' Literary Theory
  • Ihab Hasan, “Toward a Concept of Postmodern”
  • Jacques Derrida, "Structure, Sign and Play"
  • Jacques Lacan, “The Mirror Stage as Formative of the Function of the I as Revealed in Psychoanalytic Experience”
  • Jean-Francois Lyotard, “Answering the Question: What is Postmodernism?”
  • Jean-Paul Sartre, “What Is Literature?”
  • John Crowe Ransom, “Criticism, Inc.”
  • Judith Bultler, From Gender Trouble
  • Jurgen Hanermas, “Modernity-An Incomplete Project”
  • Kate Millet, From “Theory of Sexual Politics”
  • Kenneth Burke, “Kinds of Criticism”
  • Laura Mulvey, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”
  • Leon Trotsky, From Literature and Revolution
  • Lionel Trilling, “Marxism and Literature”
  • Louis Althusser, “Ideology and ideological state apparatus”
  • Martin Heidegger, From “Language”
  • Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, “From The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception”
  • Michel Foucault, "What is an Author?"
  • Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, “On the Abolition of the English Department.”
  • Northrop Frye “The Archetypes of Literature”
  • Raymond Williams “The Analysis of Culture”
  • Roland Barthes "Death of the Author"
  • Roman Jakobson, From “Linguistics and Poetics”
  • Sigmund Freud, From The Interpretations of Dreams.
  • Simone de Beauvoir, From The Second Sex
  • Stuart Hall, "Cultural Studies and Its Theoretical Legacies"
  • Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age ,of Mechanical Reproduction”
  • W. E. B. Dubois, From Criteria of Negro Art
  • Wolfgang Iser, “Interaction between Text and Reader”
  • Zora Neale Hurston, “Characteristics of Negro Expression”