RICHARD L. W. CLARKE


 

 

 

LITS2306 HISTORY OF CRITICISM

2015-2016

MODULE ONE: CLASSICAL FOUNDATIONS
 

WEEK ONE: INTRODUCTION
WHAT IS LITERARY THEORY? / RHETORIC I: THE SOPHISTS
(Week of August 31)
 

REQUIRED READINGS:

 

 

SEMINAR 1:
  • Course objectives, schedule, etc.
  • History of Philosophy / Literary Theory
Notes:
TUTORIAL:
  • Abrams, M. H. The Mirror and the Lamp: Ch. 1 "Introduction: Orientation of Critical Theories" (pp. 3-29):
    • "Mimetic Theories" (pp. 8-14)
    • "Pragmatic Theories" (pp. 14-21)
    • "Objective Theories" (pp. 26-29)
    • "Expressive Theories" (pp. 21-26)
Notes:
  • 01C What is Literary Theory?
SEMINAR 2:
  • The Sophists, Selections (pp. 80-88 in Readings in Ancient Greek Philosophy, ed. S. Marc Cohen, et al.)
Notes:

RECOMMENDED READINGS:

  • Taylor, C. C. W., and Mi-Kyoung Lee: The Sophists (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

PHILWEB RESOURCES:

COMMENTS:
  • In Seminar 1, after dealing with introductory matters, we shall first explore the question, what is 'philosophy'?  We shall consider the various branches of philosophy (of which literary theory -- or philosophy of literature -- is part) and the various periods into which philosophical and, by extension, intellectual and literary history are divided. 
  • In the tutorial, we will attempt to ask the question, what is 'literary theory'?
  • In Seminar  2, we shall turn our attention to 'rhetoric' and to this end we will examine some fragments by two (Gorgias and Protagoras) of the earliest known proponents of rhetoric (or 'rhetoricians'), the so-called 'Sophists,' whose views Plato vehemently opposed.
  • Each week, please read the Required Readings (i.e. the primary sources) listed on your own.
  • Please bring copies (hard or soft) of the Notes (in this case 01A-01D) above to class.

WEEK TWO: PHILOSOPHY I: PLATONIC RATIONALISM
PLATO ON THE NATURE OF REALITY, KNOWLEDGE, THE SELF and LITERATURE
(Week of September 07)
 

REQUIRED READINGS:

 

 

SEMINAR 1: Notes:
TUTORIAL:
  • The Republic continued
 
SEMINAR 2: Notes:

RECOMMENDED READINGS:

PHILWEB RESOURCES:

COMMENTS:
 
  • This week, we turn our attention to Plato, the first of the great ancient Greek philosophers.  Our goal here is not to become experts on Plato which would be impossible in just one week.  It is, rather, to acquire a basic understanding of Plato's views on the nature of reality (his metaphysics), knowledge (his epistemology), the self (his philosophy of mind and self), and even the discipline of philosophy itself (metaphilosophy) because these in turn shape his conception of literature.  Moreover, as we shall see, a grasp of Plato is a necessary foundation for understanding the subsequent history of Western thought in general -- all modern philosophy is, as a noted historian of philosophy once put it, a series of footnotes to Plato.
  • Read the selections from The Republic listed on your own and study Notes 02A (my summary of the selections listed) on your own as well.
  • Bring Notes 02B (my overview of Plato's philosophy) to Seminar 1 and the tutorial, and Notes 02C (my summary of Plato's views on literature) to Seminar 2.
  • For background information on and definitions of key concepts (e.g. the mind), topics (e.g. truth) and fields of study (e.g. epistemology or metaphysics), please also study the Supplementary Notes on Human Being, Knowledge and Nature.

WEEK THREE: PHILOSOPHY II: ARISTOTELIAN EMPIRICISM
ARISTOTLE ON THE NATURE OF REALITY, KNOWLEDGE, THE SELF AND LITERATURE
(Week of September 14)
 

REQUIRED READINGS:

 

 

SEMINAR 1:

[all readings written c. 335 - c.320 BCE]

Notes:
TUTORIAL:

[all readings written c. 335 - c.320 BCE]

Notes:
SEMINAR 2: Notes:

RECOMMENDED READINGS:

  • Crane, R. S.: Critics and Criticism [1952]: "Introduction" (pp. 1-24)
  • Sachs, Joe: Aristotle's Poetics (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
  • Shields, Christopher: Aristotle (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

PHILWEB RESOURCES:

COMMENTS:
 
  • This week, we turn our attention to Aristotle, Plato's student and the second of the great ancient Greek philosophers.  His impact on subsequent Western thought is just as huge, if not greater than Plato's.  The selections by Aristotle listed are very brief and elliptical (because based on his lecture notes to his students) and, thus, complex.  As was the case with Plato, our goal here is not to become experts on Aristotle (which would take years of study) but to acquire a basic grasp of his views on the nature of reality, knowledge, and the self which in turn shape a very different theory of literature from Plato's.  As we shall see, Aristotle's outlook diverges in significant ways from that of his teacher, with the result that where Plato is often classified as a rationalist, Aristotle is thought to belong to the empiricist camp.  Aristotle's teachings would for a time be forgotten in Europe where the Platonic corpus, adapted to the Christian context, would predominate for centuries.  However, Aristotle's works were never lost because they were preserved by Arab scholars through whom they would eventually be reintroduced into European intellectual circles in the late Middle Ages and the early Renaissance.
  • Bring Notes 03A and 03B to Seminar 1 and Notes 03C and 03D to the tutorial; study Notes 03E on your own. 
  • Study Notes 03F (my summary of the Poetics) on your own and bring 03G (my overview) to Seminar 2 as well as Seminar 1 next week.

WEEK FOUR: PHILOSOPHY III: ARISTOTELIAN EMPIRICISM CONTINUED
ARISTOTLE ON THE NATURE OF LITERATURE (CONTINUED) AND RHETORIC
(Week of September 21)
 

REQUIRED READINGS:

 

 

SEMINAR 1:
  • Poetics continued
Notes:
TUTORIAL:
  • Poetics Continued
Notes:
SEMINAR 2:
  • Rhetoric: Rhys Roberts Translation [or here] (pp. 2152-2269 in Vol. 2 of Complete Works, ed. Jonathan Barnes): read especially Bk I, Chs. 1-3; Bk. II, Chs. 1 and 18; Bk. III, Chs. 1-2, 13-14, 17-19
Notes:

RECOMMENDED READINGS:

  • Corbett, Edward P. J.  Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student.  Oxford: OUP, 1965.
    • Chapter I "Introduction": "A Brief Explanation of Classical Rhetoric" (pp. 20-29)
    • Chapter II "Discovery of Arguments" (pp.34-142)
    • Chapter III: "Arrangement of Material" (pp. 277-312)
    • Chapter IV "Style" (pp. 386-448)
  • Crane, R. S.: Critics and Criticism [1952]: "Introduction" (pp. 1-24)
  • Rapp, Christof: Aristotle's Rhetoric (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
  • Sachs, Joe: Aristotle's Poetics (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

PHILWEB RESOURCES:

COMMENTS:
 
  • In Seminar 1 and the tutorial, we shall continue to explore Aristotle's Poetics.
  • In Seminar 2, we shall explore Aristotle's views on rhetoric.  His Rhetoric is perhaps the earliest important statement on rhetoric the massive influence of which continues to be felt to this day in the field of rhetorical studies.  As we shall see, where Plato is quite fearful and dismissive of rhetoric, Aristotle offers the first systematic account of rhetoric in the belief that its powers can be harnessed and properly utilised, especially in the public sphere (in the courts, parliament, and on ceremonial occasions), once it is correctly understood. 
  • Bring Notes 03G to Seminar 1 and the tutorial.
  • Bring Notes 04 to Seminar 2.

WEEK FIVE: RHETORIC II: THE RESURGENCE OF RHETORIC
ARISTOTLE ON RHETORIC CONTINUED / QUINTILIAN ON THE TROPES
(Week of September 28)
 

REQUIRED READINGS:

 

 

LECTURE 1:
  • Aristotle, Rhetoric continued
Notes:
TUTORIAL:
  • Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria [c.90 CE]: Books 8 and 9 (see also extract, pp. 157-171 in Leitch; Watson translation, pp. 364-428 in Bizzell and Herzberg)
Notes:
LECTURE 2:
  • Institutio Oratoria continued
Notes:

RECOMMENDED READINGS:

PHILWEB RESOURCES:

COMMENTS:
 
  • In Seminar 1, we shall continue our exploration of of Aristotle's Rhetoric.
  • In the tutorial and Seminar 2, we shall study the Roman educator Quintilian's views on rhetoric, paying special attention to his views on 'tropes.'
  • Bring Notes 04 to Seminar 1.
  • Bring Notes 05 to the tutorial and Seminar 2.
 

WEEK SIX: RHETORIC III: A RHETORICAL THEORY OF LITERATURE
'LONGINUS' ON THE SUBLIME
(Week of October 05)
 

REQUIRED READINGS:

 

 

SEMINAR 1: Notes:
TUTORIAL:
  • On the Sublime continued
 
SEMINAR 2:
  • On the Sublime continued
Notes:

RECOMMENDED READINGS:

  • Abrams, M. H. The Mirror and the Lamp: Ch. 4 "The Development of the Expressive Theory of Art": "Longinus and the Longinians" (73-78)
  • Russell, D. A.  "Longinus on Sublimity."  Classical Criticism.  Ed. George A. Kennedy.  Vol. 1 of Cambridge History of Literary Criticism.  Cambridge: CUP, 1989.  306-311.

PHILWEB RESOURCES:

COMMENTS:
 
  • This week, we shall explore the rhetorical perspective on literature, one quite different from the philosophical models offered by Plato and Aristotle.  'Longinus' (no one knows his real name, so he was called 'Longinus' [or 'long-winded'] because of the lengthy nature of the treatise) offers a theory of literature grounded in the author and the reader that would be lost for a time before it was 'rediscovered' in the eighteenth century and later embraced by the Romantics in the nineteenth century.
  • Bring Notes 06 to all classes this week.

You should be working at this point on your Term Paper, which is based on Module One.

Click HERE for a chart of the key philosophers, rhetoricians and literary theorists of the Classical period covered in Module One.

Simply because it is impossible to cover over 2000 years of intellectual history in 12 weeks, from this point, we shall skip over several intervening periods of philosophical, rhetorical and literary history: the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Early Modern (Neoclassical) and the Romantic periods.  Click HERE for a chart of the key philosophers, rhetoricians and literary theorists of these periods whom we cannot study in this course but whom we do cover in other courses such as LITS2001 Poetry I and LITS2002 Modern Poetry.

Although 'Longinus' was largely forgotten after his emergence in the first century CE, the influence of Plato and, later, Aristotle on subsequent philosophers and literary theorists is incalculable.  In the Middle Ages (which stretches from about the third century CE to the fourteenth century), the philosophy (e.g. On Christian Doctrine) of St. Augustine (354 - 430) was immensely indebted to Plato.  Similarly, the philosophical writings (e.g. Summa Theologica) of St. Thomas Aquinas (1225 - 1274) were equally indebted to the newly rediscovered works of Aristotle.  Both St. Augustine and St. Thomas advanced an allegorical approach to biblical interpretation which reflected the belief of both Plato and Christianity in the existence of a better, more perfect world elsewhere of which this world is a very imperfect imitation which is indirectly and subtly signified by even the most mundane passages in the Bible.  The allegorical approach to literary interpretation advanced by the famous Italian poet and literary theorist Dante Alighieri (1265 - 1321) was entirely shaped by this model of reading the Bible (see his The Banquet and his Letter to Can Grande Della Scala).

In the Renaissance (c.1400  - c. 1660), Plato's fear and distrust of rhetoric is regurgitated by Peter Ramus (1515 - 1572) in his Arguments in Rhetoric Against Quintilian, while Sir Philip Sidney (1554 - 1586), deeply indebted to Plato's worldview, responds in his famous "An Apology for Poetry" to Plato's open invitation to others to rescue literature from the exile to which it had been condemned at the end of The Republic.  Aristotle's influence is felt in the empiricism of Sir Francis Bacon (1561 - 1626) (see his The New Organon) as well as the literary theory of Lodovico Castelvetro (1505 - 1571) (see his The Poetics of Aristotle Translated and Explained).  At the same time, an alternative philosophical tradition (or, possibly, a rhetorical alternative to the philosophical tradition) is glimpsed in the Essays of Michel de Montaigne (1533 - 1592), especially his An Apology for Raymond Sebond, where many of the most cherished tenets of the philosophical tradition (e.g. that the truth can be objectively known) are put to the test, interrogated and dismissed powerfully.

In the Early Modern / Neoclassical period (c. 1660 - c. 1785), a more secular, scientific outlook indebted to Aristotelianism gathers pace and begins to replace the Platonic-Christian model of things that predominated during the Middle Ages and Renaissance.  However, Plato's influence is still to some degree discernible in the development of philosophical rationalism which is epitomised by the work of René Descartes (1596 - 1650), Baruch de Spinoza (1632 - 1677), Gottfried Leibniz (1646 - 1716), and Immanuel Kant (1724 - 1804).  Aristotle's influence is felt in the development of philosophical empiricism, synonymous with the work of Bacon (mentioned earlier), John Locke (1632 - 1704), George Berkeley (1685 - 1753) and David Hume (1711 - 1776), and the beginnings of modern science more widely.  A rhetorical alternative to the philosophical tradition, that questions some of the most cherished assumptions held by mainstream philosophers, may again be glimpsed in the work of Giambattista Vico (1668 - 1744).  Plato's influence on literary theory is fading by this time even as the influence of Aristotle's Poetics increases.  The latter is directly and indirectly apparent in "Of the Three Unities of Action, Time, and Place" by Pierre Corneille (1606 - 1684), many of the articles in his journal The Spectator by Joseph Addison (1672 - 1719) on the impact of literature on the workings of the mind, the "Essay on Criticism" by Alexander Pope (1688 - 1744) (studied in LITS2002 Poetry II), the pioneering work of Samuel Johnson (1709 - 1784) on representation in prose fiction, and the Discourses on Art by Joshua Reynolds (1723 - 1792)

Towards the end of the Early Modern period, the rediscovery of Longinus' views on the 'sublime' manifests itself in a revolutionary work of literary theory, "Conjectures on Original Composition" (1759) by Edward Young (1683 - 1765), whose poetry and literary theory were to have an enormous influence on the development of Romanticism (c. 1785 - c. 1830) initially in Germany and, later, in England.  Romanticism is a reaction against the philosophical certitudes and scientism of the early modern period and arguably represents the first full flowering of the anti-philosophical rhetorical tradition merely glimpsed in earlier periods.  In Germany, Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744 - 1803) is the founder of Romanticism.  He advocates a historicist and nationalist approach to understanding human reasoning (i.e. he was of the view that human thought is shaped by the time and place in which it occurs).  Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767 - 1835) and Friedrich von Schleiermacher (1768 - 1834) build on his work, pioneering the development of the field of hermeneutics (where rhetoric is devoted to the study of how texts are produced, hermeneutics focuses on how texts are interpreted), directing our attention to the author, the place and the time in which the text was produced.  This anti-philosophical tradition culminates in the work of the Danish thinker Soren Kierkegaard (1813 - 1855) and, perhaps even more importantly, the German rhetorician Friedrich von Nietzsche (1844 - 1900) in the latter half of the nineteenth century.  Some strains of Romanticism are also influenced by the rise of so-called German Idealism epitomised by the work of G. W. F. Hegel (1770 - 1831), the influence on whom of Plato is very apparent.  In England, the influence of German Romanticism led to radical (for the time) poetic and theoretical experimentation in the work of William Wordsworth (1770 - 1850) (see his Preface to the Lyrical Ballads), Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772 - 1834) (see his Biographical Literaria), Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792 - 1822) (see his "A Defence of "Poetry") and John Keats (1795 - 1821), all of whom are studied in LITS2002 Poetry II.  The Romantics all emphasise the importance of the author to an understanding of the literary work (see, e.g., the work of Coleridge above), the relevance of literary history, i.e. the place and time in which literature is written (see the work of Hippolyte Taine [1828 - 1893]), the inevitably subjective nature of all literary representation (see Oscar Wilde [1854 - 1900]), the recognition that forms of literary expression are necessarily unique because inextricably tied to the peculiar identity of the author and the specific place and time in which s/he writes (see Wordsworth above) and, last but not least, the subjective nature of all literary interpretation (see Oscar Wilde [1854 - 1900] once more).  Of course, as is the repeated pattern of intellectual history, not everyone agreed with the Romantics, resulting in a resurgence of the philosophical tradition in the form of Scientific Positivism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and epitomised by the work of Auguste Comte (1798 - 1857) in France and John Stuart Mill (1806 - 1873) in England.  The Positivists would argue, by contrast to the Romantics, that the author is irrelevant to an understanding of the literary work (see T. S. Eliot [1888 - 1965]), literary history is of little importance (see Matthew Arnold [1822 - 1888]), literary representation can be objective (see Emile Zola [1840 - 1902]), and reading can be objective (see I. A. Richards [1893 - 1979]).

In Module Two, we shall compare the respective perspectives of the philosophical and rhetorical traditions on the following topics: Representation and Form (Zola and Watt versus Baudelaire, Wilde and Booth); the Author and Literary History (Arnold, Eliot, and the New Critics versus Taine and Ong), and The Reader (Arnold, Richards and the New Critics versus Pater, Wilde and Rosenblatt).

END OF MODULE ONE
 

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