In this lecture on critical identities, Professor Fry examines the work of Stanley Fish and John Guillory. The lecture begins by examining Tony the Tow Truck as a site for the emergence of literary identities, then brings the course's use of the children's story under scrutiny through the lens of Fish. The evolution of Fish's theory of interpretive communities is traced chronologically through his publications and examined in close-up in Milton's Paradise Lost. John Guillory's work on interpretive communities and the culture wars leads to a discussion of the Western canon and multiculturalism.
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?
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