ENGL 593 -- Autumn Quarter 2005

Seminar in Textual Theory and the Arts (w/Hum 522 & CLit 596A) Modiano MW 3:30-5:20

This seminar is one of the four core courses developed by the campus-wide Textual Studies Program. Course credit will count toward the Textual Studies Ph. D. track in all participating departments and may count toward the Critical Theory concentration in Comparative Literature. This course is open to all graduate students and advanced undergraduates. Students completing this course will develop basic skills of literary scholarship (the use of literary archives; aspects of physical bibliography and the printing and production of books; scholarly editing; manuscript-based textual criticism) which will be of help for other courses.

The goal of this course is to challenge the assumption that textual theory and practice occupy a domain separate from literary theory and criticism, and from other disciplines such as art history, architecture, music or film studies. Confronting this territorial fallacy, the course will show that developments in contemporary theory have influenced, and at times radically altered, the direction of textual studies; and conversely. that textual scholars have often anticipated and conceptualized the speculations of theorists in intellectually provocative ways. The first part of the course will familiarize students with major theories of textual criticism and editorial traditions that address the concepts of authorship and authorial intention; the distinction between document, text, work and the physical book; “ideal” texts and transcendental hermeneutics; the relationship of biographical and sociological contexts to texts, and of creators to producers of literature; and the functions of readerships. It will also document contemporary controversies in textual edition (such as the challenge posed by Jerome McGann to established cannons of editing), as well as debates about the editing of particular texts in Renaissance (especially Shakespeare), romantic (especially Keats and Wordsworth) and modern literature (especially Joyce’s Ulysses). The second part of the course will explore the relevance of textual theory to the study of paintings and forgeries of art works; the production of plays; film adaptations of literary works and digital cinema. Students completing this course will learn to scrutinize the texts they are using and develop awareness of the editorial and cultural ideologies that inform them.

The course will involve the participation of librarians and several visiting distinguished scholars in Textual Studies, each of whom will spend one week at UW, participating in the seminars, giving public lectures and spending ample time with students during seminars and social occasions. Assignments will include a final paper on one of the following topics: an essay on a particular aspect of textual theory, a critical edition reading text (with editorial rational) of a poem or short story; a review of an existing edition and of controversies surrounding it; the history, transmission and alteration of a given literary or artistic work.

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