Addressing the self-reflexive imperative that lies at the root of “theory,” this class will step back from individual texts of fiction to think through bigger questions about literature. What counts as literature? What is the role of history in the production of literature? Does literature reflect reality or create it? Does gender play a role in the kind of literature we read and write? Why do we desire to read? What do we read when we read? In this class we will be working in theory’s self-reflexive spirit: reading and writing about texts that think about reading and writing. Even though its antecedents stretch as far back as Plato, we will be focusing primarily on several schools of literary thought from the 19th century to the present. The premise in all these theories is that literature is not a transparent medium; rather, we need to work hard in order to read, think, and write.