Critical Methods [newly named Introduction to Critical Theory] is one of the greatest classes I’ve taken at GW. The course involved quite a bit of reading, but every text taught me something new and made me reconsider and analyze the way I read, wrote, and thought. It’s the a class that I think all students should take, regardless of whether or not they are pursuing a degree in English. Here are the thoughts of a few former and current Critical Methods students on why you should take Critical Methods.
1. Maggie Koons, Creative Writing and English major
I learned a whole hell of a lot more in my Critical Methods class than I did in any other class. I absolutely loathe theory, so while I probably would have read the material I’m reading in my literature-based classes outside of class (and have, in a lot of cases), I would have never gotten around to reading Foucault or any of those other philosophers/linguists. I definitely think it should still be a requirement [for English majors], because even though I didn’t always love the class, I can say with authority that it was the class I got the most out of.
2. Negar Esfandiari, English major
I took it with Professor Marshall Alcorn last fall and didn’t realize how much the theorists we read would come up in later classes, even outside of English. I do think that the class was overwhelmingly western focused, and if it continues to be called Critical Methods then it should denote the western focus. We have a tendency at GW to use umbrella language when even if the subject in question represents a fraction of the field, so I think the critical methods syllabus could use a lot of diversification.
3. Sarahann Kolder, Undecided
The class made me think about expression and text in new anthropological ways. We discussed the effect of authorship, legacy, and fame on the value of text—which made me reevaluate what I thought was good literature and opened my mind to different styles of writing and media.
4. Ben Martin, English major
Critical Methods was a pivotal class in my English career that allowed me to think and create new ideas within different lenses of distinct philosophies and opinions.
5. Cailley LaPara, International Affairs and English major, minor in Creative Writing
Critical Theory gives us an overview of theories and methods of studying literature that we can’t get in other classes that focus on one period or genre of literature. It’s necessary because it helps us take a step back and think about what it is that we’re studying.
6. Scott Dillon, GWU 2016, Creative Writing and English
No other course at this university will introduce you to new ways of thinking the way that Critical Methods will.