The Art of Literary Criticism (LIT4586.01)

Benjamin Anastas

“We live in a golden age of criticism,” W.J.T. Mitchell famously declared in 1987, and by that he meant that the dominant literary forms of the late 20th Century—poetry, fiction, drama and film—had lost the supremacy they’d long held to the emergent high-minded fields of literary criticism and literary theory. The Critic and the Artist have always been at odds, though recent writers and schools of poetics have done away with binaries and dissolved the boundaries between the creative and the critical practice. This course will ask: What is criticism for? Where did it come from originally, and what forms has it taken—and tribes have been formed around it—since Aristotle’s Poetics (335 B.C.E.)? How do you write seriously about supposedly unserious things? We’ll revisit pivotal acts of criticism, like Joan Didion’s essay on the so-called Central Park Five; Pauline Kael’s New Yorker review essay about Bonnie and Clyde (it saved the film); and Zadie Smith’s essays about—well, everything. While this is not a Reading and Writing class, students will be using be using our intensive study of criticism and theory as a springboard for their own acts of criticism.

Delivery Method: Entirely remote (synchronous)
Prerequisites: Interested students should submit a writing sample to banastas@bennington.edu by Thursday, November 12. Students will be notified of acceptance into the class on Tuesday, November 17.
Corequisites: Please note that students enrolled in this course are required to attend Poetry at Bennington and Literature Evening events on Wednesday nights at 7:00 PM. 
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 4
W 10:10AM-12:00PM, W 2:10PM-4:00PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 15
Course Frequency: Every 2-3 years

Categories: All courses , Literature , Entirely Remote
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