English 3750 Literary Theory and Criticism

Purpose: to help other instructors teaching the same course

Common Course ID: English 3750 Literary Theory and Criticism
CSU Instructor Open Textbook Adoption Portrait

Abstract:  This collection of articles is being utilized in an English course for undergraduate or graduate students by Jessica Luck at Cal State University, San Bernardino. The collection of articles provides [the theoretical texts that we study in the course that used to be provided by an expensive anthology]. The main motivation to adopt an open collection of articles rather than a textbook was [to help students save money]. Students access the collection of articles as [PDF files available through our Learning Management System].

About the Course

English 3750 Literary Theory and Criticism
Brief Description of course highlights:  English 3750 Literary Theory and Criticism is a core course in the English major at CSUSB (that is, all English majors are required to take it). There are no pre-requisites.

Student population: This course is a requirement for all English majors as a foundational class in the understanding and application of literary theory. It is not typically taken by other majors. Students typically have little to no experience with critical theory before taking the class. 

Learning or student outcomes:  

  • Students will gain and practice strategies for how to read critical theory. 
  • Students will gain and practice strategies for how to engage with and/or apply critical theory in their own thinking and writing about texts.
  • Students will understand the following “threshold concepts” about critical theory:
    1. Theory is always in dialogue with the texts to which you apply it. That is, texts are not passive, but are “co-theorizers” that can critique, extend, complicate, refine, or even refute the theory. 
    2. Theory is transformative. It can explain why literature and language matter; it can change our understanding of how language, culture, and identity work. 
    3. Theory is generative. Applying theory during your interpretation of literary texts is always a creative act. 
    4. Theory is a site of conflict. There is no agreed upon theory of how to interpret literature, culture, language, or identity in English studies. Even theorists within the same school will often disagree with one another.
    5. Theory is flexible and integrative. It can be applied productively across a wide variety of contexts. 

Key challenges faced and how resolved: The essays that I scanned using a PDF creator did not make accessible/searchable PDFs. I would need to work with Services to Students with Disabilities to make them accessible to students who use electronic readers. 

Syllabus and Sample assignments: To illustrates how the open textbook was used in the course. N/A

About the Resource/Textbook 

Textbook or OER/Low cost Title:  I collected articles from the internet and from our library databases for the class.

Student access:  Learning Management System

Cost Savings: The original textbook cost $89.35.

License: Materials were available open-access on the internet or through licensed library databases. 

OER/Low Cost Adoption

OER/Low Cost Adoption Process

Provide an explanation or what motivated you to use this textbook or OER/Low Cost option. Save students money, customize materials for exactly what theories and texts that I thought students would find most engaging and productive.

How did you find and select the open textbook for this course?  

  • Many of the articles and essays I taught were available online as accessible PDFs. 
    • Search for “Judith Butler Imitation and Gender Insubordination PDF” on Google! 
  • Some essays were available via JSTOR, ProjectMuse, and other databases owned by the Pfau Library. 
    • For example, Rob Nixon’s introduction to Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor
  • Any essays not available in these contexts I scanned myself using the CamScanner app. 

Describe any challenges you experienced, and lessons learned.  I wish that the university would make available to us a PDF-making application/scanner that would create searchable PDFs for students with disabilities for the essays I could only find in paper copy.

About the Instructor

Jessica Lewis Luck 
Professor of English

California State University, San Bernardino

Provide a statement of your teaching philosophy and courses you teach (or taught) 

Graduate Literature & Theory Courses
Critical Approaches to Literature – English 6000
Poetic Sound and Performance – English 6010

Disability Poetry and Poetics – English 6010
Experimental Poetry and Poetics – English 6010
Undergraduate Literature & Theory Courses

Disability in Literary Study – English 5150
Garbage in Contemporary Literature – English 5150
Experimental Poetry and Poetics – English 4400

Post-War American Poetries – English 4430
Modern American Poetry – English 4420
Confessional Poetry – English 4400

Poetry and the Brain – English 4230
Literary Theory and Criticism – English 3750
Poetry and Disability – English 3190

Analysis of Poetry & Drama – English 3010
Historical Approaches to American Literature – English 2250