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Summer before MA - Lit and theory reading suggestions?


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Hey everybody!

 

I've accepted my offer of admission to Michigan State's English MA for the fall, and after a meeting of prospectives yesterday, I'm a little nervous.  Of the whole group, I am the ONLY fresh MA student. Everyone else was looking at the PhD, except for one student who's halfway through his MA at another school and wants to finish it elsewhere.  Our graduate courses are available to both MA students and PhD students, so I will likely be taking some of my first year MA classes with upwards of 5th year PhDs.  Obviously, they're going to have a huge leg up on me in terms of their base of knowledge and their familiarity with certain works and essays.

 

My undergraduate English education (also at MSU) was mostly comprised of film studies/film theory classes, as that was my concentration (and that's my goal for PhD study).  As such, my familiarity with certain novels and theoretical works is really lacking.

 

I'm looking to beef up my knowledge base mostly of critical theories that are frequently used in discussing literature (and film, to a slightly lesser extent, as I'm already familiar with a fair amount), as well as with novels you're more or less expected to have ready by the time you enter a Master's program.

 

I don't have a particular era I'm focusing on, and I'll likely be taking courses dealing with several different literary movements.  Any suggested reading on feminist theories and queer theories is especially welcome.

 

Thank you all in advance!

 

Cheers :)

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Congrats on your acceptance! My suggestion is to browse It's full of theory reading recommendations from people with various subject backgrounds, and will likely be very useful for you. 

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Anzaldúa, Gloria. “La Conciencia de la Mestiza: Towards a New Consciousness.” The Woman That I Am: The

Literature and Culture of Contemporary Women of Color. Ed. Madison, D. Soyini. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1997. 560-72. Print.

 

Lorde, Audre. “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House.” 1979. Sister Outsider. New York: The Crossing Press, 1984. Print.

 

Smith, Andrea. “Native American Feminism, Sovereignty, and Social Change.” Feminist Studies. 31.1 (Spring 2005): 116-132. Print.

 

Also, I would recommend This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, which is co-edited by Anzaldúa and Cherrie Moraga, who also wrote "La Guera," which I would also recommend.

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Anzaldúa, Gloria. “La Conciencia de la Mestiza: Towards a New Consciousness.” The Woman That I Am: The

Literature and Culture of Contemporary Women of Color. Ed. Madison, D. Soyini. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1997. 560-72. Print.

 

Lorde, Audre. “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House.” 1979. Sister Outsider. New York: The Crossing Press, 1984. Print.

 

Smith, Andrea. “Native American Feminism, Sovereignty, and Social Change.” Feminist Studies. 31.1 (Spring 2005): 116-132. Print.

 

Also, I would recommend This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, which is co-edited by Anzaldúa and Cherrie Moraga, who also wrote "La Guera," which I would also recommend.

 

Excellent.  Thank you!  I'll definitely add that all to my list :)

 

edit:

Freud.

 

Oh yes, Freud.  I'm already pretty familiar with a fair amount of his work from my film theory classes, but I'll be sure to look over several essays again.  Any suggestions in particular?

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Excellent.  Thank you!  I'll definitely add that all to my list :)

 

 

Oh yes, Freud.  I'm already pretty familiar with a fair amount of his work from my film theory classes, but I'll be sure to look over several essays again.  Any suggestions in particular?

 

Some basics (for your noted interests) might include:

Mourning and Melancholia

The Dissolution of the Oedipus Complex

On Narcissism

Beyond the pleasure principle

Three essays on the theory of sexuality

 

(Sorry if you're already familiar with these. If you are already familiar with these, and they are at all of interest, perhaps check-out some Irigaray, Cixous, Fanon)

 

Edit: shoot me a PM if you are interested in modern moves in psychoanalysis regarding queer theory. Best of luck to you :-).

2nd edit: Because i've been thinking about it in terms of syllabi, i'd start with Kristeva's "Women's Time" if that's the sort of route you might also take ('French' 'feminism').

Edited by StephanieDelacour
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I haven't read through the link above, so I'm not sure if it's mentioned in that thread, but this is one of the books we use in my grad theory class: http://www.amazon.com/Critical-Theory-Today-User-Friendly-Guide/dp/0415974100/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1365265135&sr=8-1&keywords=lois+tyson. It's really good at providing an overview of the theories along with showing how they'd be applied to actual texts, which can be useful (at least for me) before delving into some of the essays.

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Some basics (for your noted interests) might include:

Mourning and Melancholia

The Dissolution of the Oedipus Complex

On Narcissism

Beyond the pleasure principle

Three essays on the theory of sexuality

 

(Sorry if you're already familiar with these. If you are already familiar with these, and they are at all of interest, perhaps check-out some Irigaray, Cixous, Fanon)

 

Edit: shoot me a PM if you are interested in modern moves in psychoanalysis regarding queer theory. Best of luck to you :-).

2nd edit: Because i've been thinking about it in terms of syllabi, i'd start with Kristeva's "Women's Time" if that's the sort of route you might also take ('French' 'feminism').

 

 

Thank you!  I've read Beyond the Pleasure Principle and Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, but I could definitely do with going over them again.  The rest will be new reads.  I'm most familiar with The Uncanny and the Interpretation of Dreams, so it'll be good to expand my Freud background.  Also, shooting you a PM!

 

I haven't read through the link above, so I'm not sure if it's mentioned in that thread, but this is one of the books we use in my grad theory class: http://www.amazon.com/Critical-Theory-Today-User-Friendly-Guide/dp/0415974100/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1365265135&sr=8-1&keywords=lois+tyson. It's really good at providing an overview of the theories along with showing how they'd be applied to actual texts, which can be useful (at least for me) before delving into some of the essays.

 

Now that sounds perfect.  Thank you so much!  I've been pretty lost on what the finer points of some theoretical approaches, and even on the general meaning of some others.  I'll be picking this up as soon as possible!

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If you can, get a copy of The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. I haven't had a chance to really look through it myself, but a few of my professors have recommended it (and one actually gave me her copy).

 

These are also very helpful:

The Columbia Dictionary of Modern Literary and Cultural Criticism

The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory

The Critical Tradition by David Richter

Literary Criticism by Charles Bressler

 

The last two work very well together (and I used them for my Critical Theory class). Bressler makes theory much simpler than it really is and Richter provides essays from various literary theorists. If you're having a hard time grasping some of the terms, the dictionaries will help simplify them even more.

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I haven't read through the link above, so I'm not sure if it's mentioned in that thread, but this is one of the books we use in my grad theory class: http://www.amazon.com/Critical-Theory-Today-User-Friendly-Guide/dp/0415974100/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1365265135&sr=8-1&keywords=lois+tyson. It's really good at providing an overview of the theories along with showing how they'd be applied to actual texts, which can be useful (at least for me) before delving into some of the essays.

 

ordered. i can't seem to get enough of these survey books. i have a problem. but it could be worse.

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A friend who completed his MA a couple years ago suggested Beginning Theory by Peter Barry as a good broad review which also lists suggested further explorations. I've just started it, and it's perfect. My friend's Irish, though, and it does seem Barry's work may be a tad bit more useful in the context of Anglo/Irish English programs than North American programs.

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For the broad overview, I found "How to Interpret Literature: Critical Theory for Literary and Cultural Studies" by Robert Dale Parker really helpful. Also the Norton Anthology of criticism. The trick to getting both of these cheaply is to buy the first edition (which are both almost the same thing).  :lol: 

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I've found it useful to ask for syllabi. "Hey ____, i'm planning on taking your course next fall. Is the syllabus ready? If so, may I please have a copy of it now?" This is applicable for courses offered in the past as well. For example, I'm done with a first reading of the material listed for next year's courses already. I did the same for my MA program. The point isn't for me to be a know-it-all come seminar time (these people exist). Rather, the point is for me to feel comfortable in having the time to do multiple readings and take in as many secondary sources as I can, as early as possible, in order to form term papers that can possibly turn into something more. This might be common sense--sorry if it is!

Edited by StephanieDelacour
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Excellent suggestions!  Yes, I'll definitely be looking for first editions of anthologies.  I just picked up an old edition of Braudy, Cohen, and Mast's Film Theory and Criticism the other day for $10, where as the most recent edition is usually $60-$80. Score!

 

And I was just thinking I should ask around for past syllabi from professors I know I want to work with.  I'm glad you mentioned it because I feel a lot more comfortable asking for them now :)

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Another thing to look at might be the online lecture courses from Yale and Cambridge. Yale's course is Introduction to Literary Theory with Paul Fry, and generally the lectures serve as good introductions to the major players in literary theory over the past 100 years or so. The Cambridge course is on Literary Criticism: Key Terms, and provides a good introduction to a more British style of criticism that many American students (including myself, I readily admit) aren't very familiar with. Both of these are available on Itunes U, and Yale's course is also available on the Open Yale website. These are also great for multitasking and for supplementing your reading. 

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  • 6 months later...

Another thing to look at might be the online lecture courses from Yale and Cambridge. Yale's course is Introduction to Literary Theory with Paul Fry, and generally the lectures serve as good introductions to the major players in literary theory over the past 100 years or so. The Cambridge course is on Literary Criticism: Key Terms, and provides a good introduction to a more British style of criticism that many American students (including myself, I readily admit) aren't very familiar with. Both of these are available on Itunes U, and Yale's course is also available on the Open Yale website. These are also great for multitasking and for supplementing your reading. 

 

Is it just me or does Paul Fry sound like Barney Fife?

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