English R1B

Reading and Composition: Enthusiasms: The Amateur Critic Then and Now

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
19 Fall 2021 Zeavin, Hannah
TTh 8-9:30 305 Wheeler


Hobbyists. Amateurs. Laypeople. Obsessionals. Devotees. Typically, when we do literary study, we look to the expert: someone who has trained for decades and is paid to know (and to teach). We will instead invest a semester in looking to the history of criticism that comes from beyond the university, and adjacent to it, tracing the relationship between those who are paid to know, and those who do it without compensation. We will look at (and write in) the forms of critique produced by “amateurs” and para-academics: the personal essay, the hot take, the blog, the scrapbook. With a focus on questions of work, what it means to belong (or not), and the effects of the digital age, we will read a wide variety of critics, whether they be canonized, minor, or even—internet influencers.

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