Essentials of Literary and Film Theory

A Newberry Library Adult Education Seminar

This seminar, scheduled for the winter/spring 2020 term, is now concluded.

This seminar offers a lively survey of literary and film theory basics. Through literary excerpts, film clips, lecture, and discussion, our sessions will explore how writers, filmmakers, philosophers, and artists—from Plato to Toni Morrison—help us appreciate the importance of a good beginning, how characters and their thoughts are represented in literature and film, the effects of patterning and framing, why books and movies often rely on the same plots, and what’s up with adaptations. Six sessions.

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Literary Theory

“The Notorious Jumping Reader of Calaveras County: Twain, Blanchot, and a Dialectic of Storytelling.” The Midwest Quarterly 49.4 (2008): 374-87.

“Drowning Martin Eden’s Ideological Aesthetic.” Guowai Wenxue (Foreign Literatures, Beijing) 66 (1997): 19-27. English version.

Notes for Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of African-American Literary theory. (New York: Oxford, 1988).

Notes for Fredric Jameson’s The Political Unconscious: Narrative as Socially Symbolic Act. (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1981).

Notes for Susan Sniader Lanser’s Fictions of Authority: Women Writers and Narrative Voice (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1992).

Sketches for “Interpreting Literature: A List of World Theory Readings, from Antiquity to 1949.”

Photo Credit: KMZ looking at Banksy in Camden, by SJV, 2006.