Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE From Plato to Pater

LEVEL 02 - Years 2, 3 in Modular Undergraduate Course



DESCRIPTION This study-unit is concerned with works of literary critical theory. Texts have been selected from the periods of Classical Greece and Rome, and from English writers of the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. Students are encouraged to follow a largely chronological sequence and to consider some of the recurrent debates that have occupied literary theorists from Classical times to the nineteenth century. Topics that could be chosen for investigation are: The Social Role of the Artist; Art as Imitation; The Nature of Tragedy; Literary 'decorum'; The Sublime; Tradition and Innovation; Genre; The Idea of a 'Poetic Diction'; Classical and Romantic Literature; Theories of the Imagination; Literature as a 'criticism of life'. Authors whose works may be studies are the following: Plato, Aristotle, Horace, 'Longinus', Philip Sidney, Ben Jonson, John Dryden, Joseph Addison, Alexander Pope, Samuel Johnson, Edward Young, Edmund Burke, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Keats, Matthew Arnold, and Walter Pater. Students are advised to familiarise themselves with the work of the classical theorists and that of sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries English critics/thinkers as they raise questions to which subsequent critics will constantly refer. It is important that students are able to demonstrate the theories under discussion by reference to a range of creative texts. In many cases, the critic will also be a poet or dramatist who is intent upon establishing a climate of opinion that will be receptive to his/her creative work. Therefore, some knowledge of the writer's non-critical output will be central to the students assessment of the criticism.

Study-unit Aims:

Students are encouraged to follow a largely chronological sequence and to consider some of the recurrent debates that have occupied literary theorists from Classical times to the nineteenth century. Within this context, the objectives of this study-unit are the following:
1. To help identify some of the major critical debates that have preoccupied theoreticians and creative writers
2. To offer some sense of a chronological development in critical perspectives
3. To provide a theoretical context that may test, and be tested by, the achievements of a variety of literary genres.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
1. Distinguish between the philosophical perspectives of Plato and Aristotle,
2. Assess the political and social implications behind Plato's hostility to Art,
3. Discuss Aristotle's understanding of the emotional effects of Art in the light of Plato's strictures,
4. Assess the nature of the sublime in Horace and 'Longinus',
5. Give an account of Sidney's idea of 'fictionality' and of the importance of the poetic imagination,
6. Assess Dryden's contribution to Renaissance dramatic theory,
7. Provide critical analysis of those stylistic features that contribute to Pope's defence,
8. Assess and analyse the concept of the imagination in Romantic literary theory,
9. Relate Arnold's ideas concerning literary criticism to consider cultural, intellectual, and social environment,
10. Provide an evaluation of the 'educative' functions of literature's 'high seriousness' in Pater.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
1. Cultivate and nurture a critical approach to texts,
2. Achieve a critical register that would be relevant and of importance to his/her approach to literary works.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Texts:

- Dorsch T.S. and P. Murray (trans.) Classical Literary Criticism (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2000) [ISBN 0-14-044651-6].
- Enright, D.J. and E. De Chickera (eds) English Critical Texts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989) [ISBN 0-19-416712-7].
- Kitson, P. (ed.) Romantic Criticism 1800-1825 (London: B.T. Batsford, 1989) [ISBN 0-71-345803-8].
- Lyotard, J.F. Lessons on the Analytic of the Sublime (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010) [ISBN 0-8047-2242-0].
- Russell D.A. and M. Winterbottom (eds) Classical Literary Criticism (Oxford: Oxford University Press World’s Classics, 2010) [ISBN 0-19-281830-9].
- Selden, R. (ed) The Theory of Criticism from Plato to the Present, A Reader (London: Longman, 1988) [ISBN 0-582-00328-8].
- Smith, G.G. (ed.) Elizabethan Critical Essays 2 vols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1904).
- Nancy, J.L. The Birth to Presence (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009) [ISBN 0-804-72189-0].
- Spingarn, J.E. (ed.) Critical Essays of the Seventeenth Century 3 vols (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1908-9).
- Vickers, B. (ed.) English Renaissance Literary Criticism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999) [ISBN 0-19-818679-7].
- Wormersley, D. (ed.) Eighteenth Century Critical Writing (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1997) [ISBN 0140-433732].
- Zuidervaart, L. Adorno's Aesthetic Theory: The Redemption of Illusion (Cambridge, Mass.,: MIT Press, 2010) [0-262-24032-7].

Secondary Texts:

- Abrams, M.H. The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition (London: Oxford University Press [ISBN 0-19-501471-5].
- Atkins, J.W.H. English Literary Criticism: Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (London: Methuen, 1951).
- Atkins, J.W.H. English Literary Criticism: The Renascence (London: Methuen, 1947).
- Auerbach, E. Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature (trans.) Trask, W. (Princeton: Priinceton University Press, 1969) [ISBN 0-691-02468-5].
- An important work dealing with the relationship between art and nature.
- Blamires, H. A History of Literary Criticism (London: Methuen, 1991) [ISBN 0-333-51735-0].
- Brett, R.L. Fancy and Imagination (Critical Idiom Series) (London: Methuen, 1969) [ISBN 0416158102].
- Brown, M. (ed.) The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism: Romanticism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000) [ISBN 0-521-30010-X].
- Daiches, D, Critical Approaches to Literature (London: Longman, 1956) [ISBN 0-582-46180-0].
- Engell, J. The Creative Imagination, Enlightenment to Romanticism (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1981) [ISBN 0-674-17572-7].
- Jay, P. Being in the Text (Cornell: Cornell University Press, 2009) [ISBN 0-8014-1599-3).
- Monk, S.H. The Sublime (Ann Arbor, Mich: University of Michigan Press, 1960).
- Tuveson, E.L. The Imagination as a Means of Grace: Locke and the Aesthetics of Romanticism (London: Cambridge University Press, 1960).
- Wellek, R.A. A History of Modern Criticism 1750-1950 4 vols (London: Cape, 1955-66).
- Wimsatt, W.K. and C. Brooks Literary Criticism: A Short History 2 vols (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983) [ISBN 0-226-90175-0].

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture and Seminar

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Take Home Examination (5 Hours) SEM2 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Maria Frendo

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It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.