This lecture provides a general introduction to literary theory and presents the important theories dealing with knowledge and its role in and as literature.
Students are introduced to the various approaches and methods of literature studies and gain an overview of literary theory.
This lecture has two aims: Firstly, it serves as a general introduction into the fiel of literary theory (thereby looking into "knowledge about literature"). Secondly, there will be a special emphasis on recent theoretical approaches that take seriously literature and knowledge as one of its components (thus investigating the "knowledge of literature"). Even though traditional criticism disagrees, a number of recent approaches, based on literature and culture studies, hold that literature is not to be conceived of as standing in opposition to the world and the classificatory system of the academic disciplines, particularly the sciences (e.g. Foucauldian discourse analysis and New Historicism). Instead, these approaches understand literature in terms of its epistemological forms and functions. Thus, the main thesis is that literature actively participates in the constitution and formation of knowledge. Literature itself generates models of knowledge, sometimes with critical or even utopian intentions. Moreover, it draws attention to the fundamental role of order and representation (systematization, narrative rendering, linguistic and pictorial representation) in both humanities and sciences.