The Potter curriculum is divided into two tracks: Criticism and Critical Theory.
Criticism is the traditional approach of interpretation and evaluation of art and literature. Literary criticism approaches works in aesthetic terms within the humanistic realm of verum, bonum and pulchrum. Social and political themes are occasionally relevant, but secondary. Criticism is concerned with the humanistic value of works. It consists of analyses and assessments of the merits and demerits of imaginative literature on the basis of a literary-historic tradition and values. Prior knowledge of literary history and representative works is helpful. There are several theoretical approaches one can adopt in literary criticism which can be used to examine the artistic qualities, norms, and truth exhibited by the work. When these become important to note, we will do so; otherwise, the criticism is based on close reading of primary sources by our esteemed faculty. The aim in literary criticism is to understand the work as an artistic-literary production. Course material in this track is designated LC.
Critical Theory stands over and against Criticism. Using the studies of identity originating in the social sciences, it examines the work for its social meaning, not its humanistic meaning. It brackets and disregards questions of humanistic value and artistic merit. The artistic work is, for the critical theorist, a token of identity themes (race, gender, class, and so on), and underlying social structure. The work of imaginative literature is not regarded as the type of thing it is–a story–but as a cultural product. According to the critical theorist, cultural products and their reception represent evidence of social ills, oppressive attitudes and practices like racism, sexism and classism, and these are to be ferreted out using the tools of critique. The aim of critical theory is to analyze the institutional discriminatory and liberatory structures of thought represented in the work. The critical theory literature is often encumbered with excessive technical jargon. Your esteemed faculty will translate the scholarly buzzwords as needed. Course material in this track is designated CT.