Videos: Intro to Literary Theory (Paul Fry, Yale Univ.)


Yale University has begun to provide free online access to videos of some of their introductory lecture courses. And Open Yale Courses the name of this digital initiative — has recently made available videorecordings of an English department course called “Introduction to Theory of Literature,” taught by Professor Paul Fry. We thought many of you would be interested in this new online resource, and in Prof. Fry’s course in particular.

Here is the description of the course:

This is a survey of the main trends in twentieth-century literary theory. Lectures will provide background for the readings and explicate them where appropriate, while attempting to develop a coherent overall context that incorporates philosophical and social perspectives on the recurrent questions: what is literature, how is it produced, how can it be understood, and what is its purpose?

And here are three sample videos: of the first lecture (the introduction to the course), the tenth lecture (the first of two on deconstruction), and then the twenty-fifth lecture (on “The End of Theory?; Neo-Pragmatism”).

To access all the recorded lectures, please click here. Here is a list of the topics covered in each of the recorded lectures:

  1. Introduction
  2. Introduction (cont.)
  3. Ways In and Out of the Hermeneutic Circle
  4. Configurative Reading
  5. The Idea of the Autonomous Artwork
  6. The New Criticism and Other Western Formalisms
  7. Russian Formalism
  8. Semiotics and Structuralism
  9. Linguistics and Literature
  10. Deconstruction I
  11. Deconstruction II
  12. Freud and Fiction
  13. Jacques Lacan in Theory
  14. Influence
  15. The Postmodern Psyche
  16. The Social Permeability of Reader and Text
  17. The Frankfurt School of Critical Theory
  18. The Political Unconscious
  19. The New Historicism
  20. The Classical Feminist Tradition
  21. African-American Criticism
  22. Post-Colonial Criticism
  23. Queer Theory and Gender Performativity
  24. The Institutional Construction of Literary Study
  25. The End of Theory?; Neo-Pragmatism
  26. Reflections; Who Doesn’t Hate Theory Now?

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