Courses » Literary Theory and Literary Criticism

Literary Theory and Literary Criticism


The course presents an overview of major trends in literary criticism and literary theory. It traces the key topics in these domains beginning from the classical times of Aristotle, Plato and Longinus till more recent theoretical trends, such as film studies, gender studies and Eco criticism.


1.Prof.Aysha Iqbal Viswamohan is professor at the Department of Humanities & Social Sciences, IIT Madras. Her research interests include Film Studies, Popular Culture and Drama. She has taught and introduced several courses in these areas and has also developed online courses for NPTEL. She has edited ‘Postliberalization Indian Novels in English: Global Reception & Politics of Award’. London: ANTHEM, 2013.


2.Dr.Vimal Mohan John did his Ph.D. from the same Department. His research interests include gender studies, film studies and literary theory.


Lecture 1

Classical/ Neo Classical Theory I

Greek and Roman models with an emphasis on classical  qualities

Plato, Aristotle, Horace, Longinus

Theories of Drama, Poetry and Style

Lecture 2

Classical/ Neo Classical Theory II

Early Modern-Enlightenment (Philip Sidney, Dryden, Pope, Samuel Johnson, Locke, Addison, Hume)

Ars Poetica, Sublimity and the Satire

Lecture 3

Romanticism I

Early Nineteenth Century Romanticism

French and German Romanticism

Schiller, Stael

Kant and Hegel

Kant  Critique of Judgement

Lecture 4

Romanticism II

English and American Romanticism

Wordsworth, Coleridge, Emerson, Poe

Poetic Diction, Fancy and Imagination

Preface to Lyrical Ballads (1800) Biographia Literaria (1817)

William Hazlitt “On Poetry in General”

Harold Bloom, ed., Romanticism and Consciousness (1970)

Lecture 5

Late Nineteenth Century

Realism and Naturalism

Eliot, Zola, Henry James

Symbolism and Aestheticism

Baudelaire, Walter Pater, Wilde

Art for Art's Sake

Arnold and the Touchstone Method

Objective Correlative, Dissociation  of Sensibility, Impersonality of Art

Lecture 6


Marx, Engels

Dialectical Materialism, Economic Determinism

Manisfesto, Das Kapital

Lukacs, The novel and socialist realism,


Althusser/Gramsci- Power/Control; Rule/HegemonyEagleton

Frankfurt School; Adorno, W. Benjamin

Lecture 7

Twentieth Century Criticism

Formalism and New Criticism

Brooks, Well Wrought Urn, Irony as a Principle of  Structure

Paul de Man, Eliot, A Tate

J C Ransom, The New Criticism

Will Empson, Seven Types of Ambiguity

The Chicago School, R S Crane

Shklovsky, Eichenbaum, Bakhtin, Jacobson

Defamiliarization, foregrounding, syuzhet/fabula

Prague Linguistic Circle

Lecture 8


Jean Piaget on “ Structure”

Saussure, Barthes

Lang/Par, synchro/diachronic analysis, syntagmatic/paradigm

Strauss - Mythologies

Jonathan Culler, Structuralist Poetics

Prague linguistic circle

Jakobson, Trubetskoy, Rene Wellek

Lecture 9

Archetypal Criticism

Bodkin, Archetypal Patterns in Poetry

Frazer, The Golden Bough

Frye, Anatomy of Criticism

C G Jung, Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Characters, Narratives, Symbols

Lecture 10


Freud, Jung, Lacan

The Interpretation of Dreams, complexes, defences, psychosexual stages and levels

Hamlet Psychoanalysed

Lacan, Jung and deviance from Freud

Metaphor, Metonymy

Lecture 11

Gender and Queer Theory

Woolf A Room of One's Own, Gilbert and Gubar, Beauvoir, Showalter, Kristeva, Cixous, Mulvey

Ecriture Feminine, Gynocriticism, Literary Paternity

Radical, Liberal and Rational Feminism

Performativity, Butler Gender Trouble, Sedgwick

Queer Theory and LGBT criticism

Lecture 12

Post Structuralism

Derrida, Foucault, Lacan, Baudrillard, Kristeva, Barthes

Eco, The Open Work


Derrida, Of Grammatology


Yale School

de Man, Hillis Miller

Semiology and the Rhetoric

Lecture 13

Reader Response and Reception

Husserl, Heidder, Jauss, Iser, Fish

1976 "Interpreting the Variorum", Interpretive Communities

Is There A Text in This Class

R Ingarden, The Intentional Object and the layers of strata

Lecture 14

Post Colonialism

Fanon, Said, Spivak, Bhabha, Achebe

Hybridity, Liminality, Subaltern

The Wretched of the Earth, Orientalism, Black Skin White Masks

The Empire Writes Back

Barry on PoCo

Colonial Mimicry

Lecture 15

New Historicism

The New Historicism (1989)

Greenblatt, Cultural Poetics, Towards a Poetics of Culture (1987)

Foucault, Derrida and other influences

L Montrose on N.H

Renaissance Self -Fashinoning: From More to Shakespeare

British Cultural Materialism

Lecture 16


Charles Sanders Pierce

Chomsky, Aspects of the Theory of Syntax

Eco, A Theory of Semiotics

Jameson, The Prison House of Language

Barthes S/Z

Lecure 17

Film Studies

Major Film Movements

Cinema and Modernism

Ideology, Character, Plot, Semiotics and Genres



Classic and New Hollywood

Key Concepts in Film Studies

Lecture 18


Ecocriticism and Green Studies

British Romanticism and American Transcendentalism

Nature Vs. Culture debates

Energy, Entropy, Symbiosis

Anthropocentrism and Patetic Fallacy

Ecocritical Readings and Linguistic Determinism

  • The exam is optional for a fee. Exams will be on 26 March 2017
  • Time: Shift 1: 9am-12 noon; Shift 2: 2pm-5pm
  • Any one shift can be chosen to write the exam for a course.
  • Registration url: Announcements will be made when the registration form is open for registrations.
  • The online registration form has to be filled and the certification exam fee needs to be paid. More details will be made available when the exam registration form is published.

  • Final score will be calculated as : 25% assignment score + 75% final exam score
  • 25% assignment score is calculated as 25% of average of best 6 out of 8 assignments
  • E-Certificate will be given to those who register and write the exam and score greater than or equal to 40% final score. Certificate will have your name, photograph and the score in the final exam with the breakup. It will have the logos of NPTEL and IIT Madras. It will be e-verifiable at nptel.ac.in/noc.