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Indian Institute of Technology Madras

Literary Theory and Literary Criticism

Indian Institute of Technology Madras and NPTEL via Swayam


The course presents an overview of major trends in literary criticism and literary theory. It traces the key topics in these domains beginning from the classical times of Aristotle, Plato and Longinus till more recent theoretical trends, such as film studies, gender studies and Eco criticism.



Lecture 1

Classical/ Neo Classical Theory I

Greek and Roman models with an emphasis on classical  qualities

Plato, Aristotle, Horace, Longinus

Theories of Drama, Poetry and Style


Lecture 2

Classical/ Neo Classical Theory II

Early Modern-Enlightenment (Philip Sidney, Dryden, Pope, Samuel Johnson, Locke, Addison, Hume)

Ars Poetica, Sublimity and the Satire


Lecture 3

Romanticism I

Early Nineteenth Century Romanticism

French and German Romanticism

Schiller, Stael

Kant and Hegel

Kant  Critique of Judgement


  Lecture 4


Romanticism II

English and American Romanticism

Wordsworth, Coleridge, Emerson, Poe

Poetic Diction, Fancy and Imagination

Preface to Lyrical Ballads (1800) Biographia Literaria (1817)

William Hazlitt “On Poetry in General”

Harold Bloom, ed., Romanticism and Consciousness (1970)




Lecture 5

Late Nineteenth Century

Realism and Naturalism

Eliot, Zola, Henry James

Symbolism and Aestheticism

Baudelaire, Walter Pater, Wilde

Art for Art's Sake

Arnold and the Touchstone Method

Objective Correlative, Dissociation  of Sensibility, Impersonality of Art

Lecture 6


Marx, Engels

Dialectical Materialism, Economic Determinism

Manisfesto, Das Kapital

Lukacs, The novel and socialist realism,


Althusser/Gramsci- Power/Control; Rule/HegemonyEagleton

Frankfurt School; Adorno, W. Benjamin


Lecture 7

Twentieth Century Criticism

Formalism and New Criticism

Brooks, Well Wrought Urn, Irony as a Principle of  Structure

Paul de Man, Eliot, A Tate

J C Ransom, The New Criticism

Will Empson, Seven Types of Ambiguity

The Chicago School, R S Crane

Shklovsky, Eichenbaum, Bakhtin, Jacobson

Defamiliarization, foregrounding, syuzhet/fabula

Prague Linguistic Circle


Lecture 8


Jean Piaget on “ Structure”

Saussure, Barthes

Lang/Par, synchro/diachronic analysis, syntagmatic/paradigm

Strauss - Mythologies

Jonathan Culler, Structuralist Poetics

Prague linguistic circle

Jakobson, Trubetskoy, Rene Wellek


Lecture 9

Archetypal Criticism

Bodkin, Archetypal Patterns in Poetry

Frazer, The Golden Bough

Frye, Anatomy of Criticism

C G Jung, Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Characters, Narratives, Symbols


Lecture 10


Freud, Jung, Lacan

The Interpretation of Dreams, complexes, defences, psychosexual stages and levels

Hamlet Psychoanalysed

Lacan, Jung and deviance from Freud

Metaphor, Metonymy


Lecture 11

Gender and Queer Theory

Woolf A Room of One's Own, Gilbert and Gubar, Beauvoir, Showalter, Kristeva, Cixous, Mulvey

Ecriture Feminine, Gynocriticism, Literary Paternity

Radical, Liberal and Rational Feminism

Performativity, Butler Gender Trouble, Sedgwick

Queer Theory and LGBT criticism


Lecture 12

Post Structuralism

Derrida, Foucault, Lacan, Baudrillard, Kristeva, Barthes

Eco, The Open Work


Derrida, Of Grammatology


Yale School

de Man, Hillis Miller

Semiology and the Rhetoric


Lecture 13

Reader Response and Reception

Husserl, Heidder, Jauss, Iser, Fish

1976 "Interpreting the Variorum", Interpretive Communities

Is There A Text in This Class

R Ingarden, The Intentional Object and the layers of strata


Lecture 14

Post Colonialism

Fanon, Said, Spivak, Bhabha, Achebe

Hybridity, Liminality, Subaltern

The Wretched of the Earth, Orientalism, Black Skin White Masks

The Empire Writes Back

Barry on PoCo

Colonial Mimicry


Lecture 15

New Historicism

The New Historicism (1989)

Greenblatt, Cultural Poetics, Towards a Poetics of Culture (1987)

Foucault, Derrida and other influences

L Montrose on N.H

Renaissance Self -Fashinoning: From More to Shakespeare

British Cultural Materialism


Lecture 16


Charles Sanders Pierce

Chomsky, Aspects of the Theory of Syntax

Eco, A Theory of Semiotics

Jameson, The Prison House of Language

Barthes S/Z



Lecure 17

Film Studies

Major Film Movements

Cinema and Modernism

Ideology, Character, Plot, Semiotics and Genres



Classic and New Hollywood

Key Concepts in Film Studies


Lecture 18


Ecocriticism and Green Studies

British Romanticism and American Transcendentalism

Nature Vs. Culture debates

Energy, Entropy, Symbiosis

Anthropocentrism and Patetic Fallacy

Ecocritical Readings and Linguistic Determinism



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