This Spring (2018) I'm offering two courses: EN271 / "Critical Theory" and EN239 / "Literature Against Bullshit" (official title: "Literature Against Distortion"). The latter is a Humanities Lab course inspired by the Calling Bullshit project at the University of Washington. 

Course descriptions appear below. If you have any questions about these courses, feel free to contact me at my Colby dot edu address.

 

EN271 / Critical Theory

 René Magritte, "The Treachery of Images" (1928-9)

 René Magritte, "The Treachery of Images" (1928-9)

This course provides an introduction to and overview of literary and critical theory, with an emphasis on the value and application of critical theory today.  Accordingly, we will proceed from the questions “what is critical theory” and “what is it for?”  Though conventional wisdom would have it that literary texts—let alone theoretical approaches to text—are hardly relevant beyond the confines of libraries and classrooms, we will challenge this assumption by examining critical theory with an emphasis on its place in the wider worlds of science, economics, politics, history, commerce, and art.  In so doing, we will progress from foundations of epistemology (how do we know what we know?), to the practice of judgment (how do we move beyond opinion to critique?).

 

EN239 / Literature Against Bullshit

Salvador Dali, "The Persistence of Memory" (1931)

Salvador Dali, "The Persistence of Memory" (1931)

This course takes literary and archival research as foundations for combating misinformation, specious claims, faulty arguments, “alternative facts,” “fake news,” and other violations of intellectual rigor and integrity.  It foregrounds evidence-based, humanistic ways of knowing.  In so doing, it leads students through a series of hands-on exercises, from archival research in special collections to civic engagement projects, designed to give students the tools to recognize, describe, and persuasively undo the proliferation of bullshit in public discourse.