BA in English: Textual Theories Courses

The Hawai‘i Pacific University English program believes that all of its graduates need to engage in theorizing. Courses that emphasize theory foster this mode of thinking by exploring the history and current role of theorizing in literary and film studies, investigating different theoretical perspectives, applying theories to create interpretations, analyzing how different theories alter meanings, and examining the political and cultural consequences of theories.

Students must take one upper-division textual theories course as part of the requirements for the BA degree. It is possible to use additional theory courses toward the major electives.

Use the course search feature to see if a course is currently scheduled.  Scroll down or click "More" after each course for some more detailed descriptions of the courses as taught by individual professors in past semesters.



Theoretical Perspectives     More

ENG 3310 Reading Everyday Life   More



Film Theory and Criticism     More



Literature Adapted to Screen   More



Seminar in Textual Criticism    More



Seminar on Postcolonial Literature  More

ENG 3300 Theoretical Perspectives

This course explores ways theories shape interpretations in both academe and everyday life. Contemporary theories are usually emphasized, but a study of earlier, alternative, minority, indigenous, and non-Western approaches may also be included. A specific theme and focus will be chosen by the instructor.

Here are some examples of Theoretical Perspectives courses that have been offered in the past:

  • Double Vision: Terrorism and Stereotype: This course probes the cultural meanings of terror by reading contrapuntally the figure of "the Irish terrorist," ubiquitous in popular culture throughout the 1990s, and "the Arab terrorist," quintessential villain of the twenty-first century.
  • Reading, Viewing, Remembering the Vietnam War: This course demonstrates that all the world's a text, or at least can be read as if it were. We'll take as our primary text the Vietnam war as it is available to us through a novel, several acclaimed films, written histories, and "the wall," the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. We will investigate how the meaning of these representations changes when viewed through the lenses of different theories. Further, we will ask where these theories originated and what is at stake in choosing to interpret through the eyes of any one of them.

ENG 3310 Reading Everyday Life as taught by Dr. Andrew Opitz

This course is based on the premise that cultural life involves constantly “reading” and interpreting the world around us—a world of advertising, literature, visual art, music, media messages, body language and dress codes. The “texts” we encounter shape consciousness and direct people to accept social arrangements involving work routines, gender roles, relationships with technology and interactions with other people and other cultures. Students in ENG 3310 learn to critically analyze this rich world of meaning by reading both primary source material and relevant works of cultural theory, rhetoric, literary studies and media studies.

    ENG 3330 Film Theory and Criticism as taught by Dr. Houston Wood (Prior to Fall 2010 this course was offered as LIT 3620)
      Why are some films judged “good” and others “bad”?  Students will watch Plan B from Outer Space and many other films and examine several film theories to determine for themselves what criteria should be used in evaluating the worth of movies. An introduction to ways of thinking about film, with an emphasis on theories of narrative form. The course also explores how cinematic narratives are affected by changes in aesthetics, culture, economics, politics and technology.   Students will learn to “read” films and be introduced to the major issues and debates in film studies over the past 70 years.
        ENG 3350 Literature Adapted to Screen as taught by Dr. Mark Tjarks
          This course is a comparative study of the poetics and rhetorics of narratives captured on the page and on screen.  By examining a number of types of written texts (short and long prose, plays, myths, parables, biographies and histories) and how these are adapted to the screen (or vice versa), students will examine how narratives and rhetoric change as they are translated from one medium to another.  Students will learn the distinctive conventions, opportunities and limitations of each medium, the elements that these media share as well as new elements that are produced by hybrid forms of literature and screen media.  Adaptations examined (there are also alternative texts to choose from):
            • Short Story Adaptation: Memento/ Memento Mori (from textbook)
            • Fantasy Epics and Novel Adaptations: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
            • Period Novel Adaptations: Jane Austen – Emma/Clueless
            • Popular Novel Adaptations: Stephen King – The Body/Stand by Me
            • Period Play Adaptations: William Shakespeare – Romeo & Juliet/Shakespeare in Love
            • Difficult Adaptations:  The Orchid Thief/Adaptation
          ENG 4300 Seminar in Textual Criticism as taught by Dr. Deborah Ross (Prior to Fall 2010 this course was offered as LIT 4000)
            Criticism is the art of reacting to a text.  It is a dialogue that goes on forever, in which anyone can take part simply by reading the reactions of others and producing one’s own.  Since criticism is itself an art form, it reflects the political, moral, and aesthetic opinions of the critic.  In this class we read a few primary texts--“To His Coy Mistress” and Hamlet, among others-- and examine several critical approaches to each, exploring how and why each one developed.  These approaches include traditional, formalistic, psychological, archetypal, structuralist and post-structuralist, feminist, and cultural.  After trying on these various orientations, students will select the ones that fit them best and establish their own identities as textual critics.
              ENG 4320 Seminar on Postcolonial Literature as taught by Dr. Patrice Wilson (Prior to Fall 2010 this course was offered as LIT 4520)
                We all know the works of British and American authors, from Shakespeare to Woolf, from Emerson to Morrison?  But what about those voices that have been influenced by England but are not originally English? What about the literature of people who were colonized by these powers?  What effects did British and/or American colonialism have on Africans, Indians, Jamaicans, Hawaiians and so on?  And how did the term “postcolonial” come to be? Explore these questions and many others in the Seminar on Postcolonial Literature.  This seminar will give us a chance to examine and explore texts that provide insights into problems and situations, including sociological and psychological, in settings not normally treated by writers of English in the past.  Among the authors we will read are Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Bharati Mukherjee and Haunani K. Trask. We will also study theoretical concepts developed by Gayatri Spivak, Edward Said, Homi Bhabha and others.