Collaborative final exam review

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:20 am by Dominique

Hi all,

During our last class I mentioned that we would prepare for the final exam by collectively reviewing terminology we’ve discussed over the course of the semester. I’ve listed that terminology below and assigned a few definitions (anywhere from one to three, depending of the complexity of the term) to each of you. Please post your responses by noon on Tuesday so that I can view them before the review session. Also, I invite you to post one question about identifying or applying any critical perspective we’ve discussed this semester underneath your definitions.

Various members of the class have also requested an additional review session. That extra session will be held on Tuesday, December 20th, from 11:30-1 pm. (I will check to make sure our classroom is free at that time.)

Please be careful and thorough as your compile your definitions, as others will be referring to them as they study. If you have not filled in a definition on your handout from class, go back to Bressler’s Literary Criticism to define it. **Note:  the terms that you’ve been assigned appear BELOW your name. Please post your terms as a comment on this post.

Formalism/New Criticism






intentional fallacy

affective fallacy



organic unity

an objective theory of art







central paradox

Reader-response or “Reader-oriented criticism”


transactional experience

efferent reading

aesthetic reading





horizon of expectations


subjective criticism


interpretive community











differance (Derrida)



binary opposition

 New Historicism and Postcolonialism


Foucault’s interpretation of the panopticon

Culture (according to Stephen Greenblatt, Raymond Williams, and Foucault)


counterhistories (Geertz)








Oedipus complex

Lacan’s mirror stage


“the Real” (Lacan)

collective unconscious (Jung)

Feminism and gender criticism





A Vindication of the Rights of Women (Wollstonecraft, 1792)


essentialist approach to gender

constructionist approach to gender






alienation effect (Brecht)

hegemony (Gramsci)



Your cultural artifact selections

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:03 pm by Dominique

After you respond to Alessandra and Cassandra posts in the forum below this one, please leave your three cultural artifact selections as a comment on this post (you may number them in order to indicate the one that seem the most compelling subject for analysis, if you’d like).  I will review these before class early Thursday morning in order to prepare for our workshop–please make sure your choices are represented here!


Reading about/as/through the gender critics…

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:00 pm by Dominique

Hi all,

Alessandra Cervinaro and Cassandra Ramlochan have agreed to be our main bloggers this week. They will continue the discussion we began at the end of class on Thursday by composing an analysis of The Turn of the Screw using a gender studies approach. Using the steps outlined on the handout you received in class, and selecting a useful “passage” (as modeled in class) that will support a gender-focused analysis, each main blogger will write a carefully-structured paragraph of 500-550 words using the guidelines below. These paragraphs should be submitted by this Monday at midnight.

First, consider the questions we addressed from a feminist perspective. (See the handout from last class on 11/1–also in your email box–especially for Steve E. who didn’t get a copy in class! A lot of feminist issues overlap with gender criticism–just remember what we said about gender critics approaching gender as a social construction.) Think specifically about how gender and sexuality were conceived of when the text was composed and/or published. See the gender criticism essay assigned for Thursday in the back of The Turn of the Screw about two central historical factors that make gender an interesting and challenging topic in the late 19th century: Oscar Wilde being put on trial for homosexual behavior and the rise of early women’s rights movements. You’ll want to acknowledge these historical circumstances as you dive into your analysis.

Then, focus on the following two-step method. Don’t think about responding to these questions in list form–rather use them as a guide to construct a fluid paragraph. If you focus more on some parts of the questions and leave others out in order to develop your ideas, that’s okay!

1. (More descriptive) How are gender norms established: What kinds of gender norms are present in the text? Are specifically gendered codes of behavior explicitly or implicitly dramatized in the text? (Are certain things assumed about how “males” and “females” should behave–how they should dress, interact, pursue a career, etc?)

2. (More analytical) How are gender norms transgressed: Do characters transgress general social codes of gender? If so, how does the text respond to this transgression? If not, why not? Do characters exhibit unexplained desire (or desire without a coherent object of that desire)? Are characters depressed or melancholy for reasons that are relatively unexplained? How are same-sex friendships described? Are these more or less passionate than opposite-sex couplings? Are these friendships seen as problematic?

When you think about how to craft your paragraph, try using the following outline:

I. In a sentence or two, establish the historical and cultural importance of gender issues at the time James is writing and consider why such issues might be reflected in James’s text, whether consciously or not. (This is where you establish your motive for using this particular critical approach. Alternatively, if you were using post-colonialism, you might discuss how the author is invested in/aware of how imperialism. If you were using psychoanalysis, you might want to note when the text was published in relation to Freud’s work and why the notion of the unconscious would capture people’s attention at that time.)

II. Describe the way gender roles are treated in the text more generally (see question 1 above). The purpose of providing this context is to help set you up to focus on one specific illustration of the way these roles are enforced and/or transgressed later on in the paragraph (and later on in an essay, if you were writing an essay).

III. Include a “passage” (carefully transcribed, properly indented, and cited, please!) that will allow you to focus in on one character, one relationship, or one type of gender “norm” that you can then analyze in more detail (thinking ahead to how you will use question 2 above as you cite your passage).

IV. Present your analysis of the passage, responding to some aspect of question 2 by highlighting the implications of specific language used or assumptions made in the passage.


Commentators should do this same exercise in a shorter form–in 150-200 words, by Wednesday at midnight–providing only one sentence for each part of the outline. While these paragraphs will clearly not be as well developed as those of the two main bloggers, this a useful approach to test out anyway; I hope it’s one with which we’ll grow more comfortable during the remainder of the semester and beyond this course.

This is also a model that I would like to see all of you adopt in your second paper, which you’ll be working on over the next four weeks and which I’ll tell you more about on Tuesday! I loved that we found a way to think about the Snickers commercials as feminist critics at the start of last class (thanks, Victoriane!). The upcoming paper assignment will allow for more of a similar kind of cultural analysis.

So, we’ll begin Tuesday’s class by returning to the handout on writing around “passages” from Thursday and briefly talking more about gender criticism. Then we’ll discuss Alessandra and Cassandra’s paragraphs. Next we’ll do…well….something else.**  And then we’ll end with a discussion of the next paper assignment. **In preparing for that “something else,” please make sure you have reviewed The Turn of the Screw, as well as your notes on psychoanalysis, feminism, and gender criticism, looking at any critical essays assigned for each of those lenses.  You may also want to practice using the paragraph structure above on your own so that you can see whether you run into trouble; if you hit a wall, contact me to show me how far you got, or stop by my office on Tuesday. As many of you have already realized, we might think we understand a critical lens when we’re discussing it in class but when we try to apply it in writing that can be a whole ‘nother ball game.

I’m looking forward to seeing you next week and will do my best to leave comments on the final versions of your Heart of Darkness essays by then.

Have a great weekend,




Today in class: Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:12 am by Dominique

The episode we viewed in class (ultimately on Tuesday, Sept 6th): http://www.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s07e12-all-about-mormons

Listen to linguist Jay Keysey read and discuss why he thinks Wallace Stevens’ “The Snow Man” is one of the best poems of the last hundred years: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5031535


Welcome to a new semester!

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:00 am by Dominique


Hi there,

If you’re reading this welcome message and can find your name in the Wordle above, you are enrolled in English 170W, an introduction to literary study, this fall. Welcome! This blog will serve as a virtual space where we’ll meet up, exchange ideas, and extend our class discussions to help make our Tuesday, Thursday, Tuesday, Thursday class rhythm feel as smooth and seamless as possible. Please bookmark this page or add it to your list of favorites so that its easily accessible; you’ll want to check in here multiple times a week.

On the righthand toolbar, you’ll find three pages here where I’ll post key materials for the course: “course readings” (those few not already included in one of the required texts for the class), “writing assignments” (where I’ll post assignment sheets for the two more formal papers), and the “syllabus” page (which is self-explanatory).

On this main page, I’ll post our weekly “prompts,” questions and issues that our rotating cast of weekly bloggers will address (more on that later). You will read their posts and comment on them before each class. For Thursday, EVERYONE will post a response to the first prompt (as opposed to a response to the response). The first prompt will appear above this message after class.

This blog, like our weekly schedule for the course, will probably evolve as we spend time thinking and writing together. (Another reason to check in often.) If you have suggestions about this blog, or thoughts, concerns, or questions about any element of the course, you can reach me most easily at Dominique.Zino@qc.cuny.edu. I am also available every Thursday in my office (Klapper Hall, room 350) from 11 am-1 pm. If you’re not available at that time, feel free to email me to arrange a face-to-face meeting at a different time.

I look forward to an exciting, productive semester with each of you,


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