Department of English

Jeffrey Barnouw

Professor EmeritusPh.D., 1969, Yale University

Jeffrey Barnouw



Literature and philosophy; literature and music; history of critical theory and rhetoric; the Enlightenment.


Jeffrey Barnouw holds a Ph.D from Yale and is a professor in the English Department. His research interests Include: Literature and Philosophy, Literature and Music, History of Critical Theory and Rhetoric, and The Enlightenment.


E 379N • Homer In Translation-W

35295 • Fall 2009
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM BEN 1.126

E379N: Homer in Translation (35295)

TuTh 3:30-5  /  Benedict 1.126  /  Fall 09 
Prof. Barnouw  /  Phone: 471-4045  /  email:
Office Hours: TuTh 2:00-3:25  /  Parlin 319  /  email:


  • Homer, The Iliad, tr. Robert Fagles, Penguin Classics paper  0140445927
  • Homer, The Odyssey, tr. Albert Cook, Norton Critical Edition  0393964051
  • Latacz, Homer. His Art and His World, Univ. of Michigan Pr  0472083538
  • Barnouw, Odysseus, Hero of Practical Intelligence University Press of America  076183026X


The course grade will be based on the three papers, 16 pages in all (5, 5, 6), an oral report and participation in class discussion, five factors weighted more or less equally, although consideration will be given for improvement. Attendance is required. More than three unexcused absences may result in a lower grade, more than five unexcused absences in failure for the course. Students will have access to the course’s Blackboard site through UT Direct.


Students with disabilities may request appropriate academic accommodations from the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, Services for Students with Disabilities, 471-6259.

Submitting as one’s own work passages taken from other sources, printed or on-line, is plagiarism and will result in a punitive failure for the course. The papers do not need to (although they certainly may) use ‘outside’ sources.

It is your own understanding of texts and issues, your own judgment, and (as a bonus) your imagination, subtlety, wit that I am most eager to see and appreciate. Every paper must have a title that indicates its main thrust. Please feel free to discuss your ideas with me beforehand. One rewrite of either the first or second paper is possible.

For more information, please download the full course syllabus.

C L 385 • History Of Literary Criticism

28690 • Spring 2000
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM CAL 22


C L 385 (34015): Foundation of Literary Theory and Criticism

Course Title (ALT):  Building Comparative Literature in Theory: From Eden to Arcadia

Comparative Literature (CL) has, from its modern origins as a field in the 20th century, defined itself vis-à-vis its visions of various "theory projects": models of how literature, texts, writers and readers exist, work, circulate, and intervene in their environments.  To study CL's canon of theory, then, means to study the ideological interventions by means of which the discipline has defined itself and to recover its strategies for constructing and legitimating its core ideologies through canonical discussions and textual sources. 

This course will trace the projects that CL has used to define itself and its work with literature and culture; it will take up the "epochs" of theory as historical reconstructions that must be understood in terms of their original historical contexts, not just and the contemporary uses to which they have been put.  Literary scholars in general and CL ones in particular have expropriated  "theory texts" from historical disciplinary forms, including rhetoric, philosophical exegesis/hermeneutics, poetics, ethics, and philosophical ontology/epistemology, then repurposed them as canonical texts supporting their own activities in the service of various ideologies of art, nation, identity, culture, and society. The source eras to be studied include, in rough outline:

  • The Classical Era (Plato, Aristotle, Greek and Roman discussions of rhetorical and dramatic literature):  literature, modalities of communication as performatives;  its function as public understandingfor the audience and the polis
  • Medieval Era (including Middle Eastern commentary traditions):  the question of textual authority, exegesis, the "arts of reading," and the status of texts as revelation
  • Renaissance:  the historicity of texts and the science of reading; art and taste
  • Early Modern era (late 18th to late 19th centuries):  the correlations of textuality with aesthetics, and the philosophy of art and the genius (focus on the reader and on education of the mind)
  • The Dawn of Modern Theory (late 19th century to end of WW I):  From Philology to the Science of Literature (a study of the ethics of scholarship). 

Post-World War II CL theory emerged out of a brew of these sources, whose urgency often gets lost as the background to today's debates about culture, literature, and the privileges that had grown up around them.  As acts of reading and interpretation were embedded by CL scholars into the universities as a master theory discipline, and as CL now moves into its third or fourth generation, it is time to recover these models for cultural and literary knowledge production that often refute the naturalizing claims made about them.  Class discussion will focus on the disciplinary frameworks that CL codified as its historical canon and legitimation, and on what assumptions about texts, writers, readers, and cultural processed have to be recovered.

By the end of the semester, students will be able to:

  • identify, define, and exemplify major arguments / issues / debates that have been hallmarks of CL theory, both as used in the modern discipline and at their origins
  • use particular theories to construct interpretations of texts (both as a précis and in essay form)
  • understand and exemplify how the theory project is used in their own area(s) of specialization (and in terms of language use in that specialization)-- how an essentially Eurocentric reconstruction of aesthetic-critical thought could itself be coopted for new ideologies of understanding texts and cultures.

 READINGS (all available on CANVAS):

  • Wellek and Warren, A Theory of Literature (various)
  • Hazard Adams' Critical Theory Since Plato (3rd ed), and small parts of Critical Theory since 1965
  • Supplemental materials:
    • Comparative Literature: A Critical Introduction,  Susan Bassnett (1993)
    • First edition of Critical Theory since Plato


  • 2 (depending on size of class, might end up being group projects) 5-minute introductions to assigned theory readings (oral presentation and 1-page summative handout); strict time limits will be imposed, because these are intended to start class discussions (5% each)
  • 3 analytic précis (1 page / 5 % each), aimed at uncovering the epistemological premises of chosen theory texts
  • 2 short (5 page) systematic interpretations of a short story or poem guided by a particular interpretive optic (parallel to those required in the CL QE; 15% each)
  • Final class project, done in stages (total 45% of the grade, allowing individual students to track how the CL canon has affected, is or is not parallel to the theory use and issues foregrounded within their own disciplinary/national contexts: annotated bibliography with prose commentaries as reflecting the ideologies of the US university literature-culture projects. The final section will be a short essay (ca. 1000 words) on how these texts cause or relieve problems of Eurocentrism or the evaluation of other regional cultural interpretive projects, marginalization, essentialization, reification, (dis)empowerment of interpretive communities, and manipulations of cultural power reified in institutions -- an individual stock-taking of the relevance of the CL history project for today's literary and cultural studies.





"Britain and European Literature and Thought." In The Cambridge History of English Literature, 1660-1780 (pp.423-444). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

"Odysseus, Hero of Practical Intelligence. Deliberation and Signs in Homer's Odyssey." Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 2004.

"Learning from Experience, or Not: From Chrysippus to Rasselas." Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture, 33, 313-336, September 2004.

Propositional Perception. Phantasia, Predication and Sign in Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics. Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 2002.

"Bible, science et souverainete chez Bacon et Hobbes." Revue de Theologie et de Philosophie, 133, 247-265, 2001.

"The Beginnings of 'Aesthetics' and the Leibnizian Conception of Sensation." In P. Mattick (Ed.), Eighteenth-Century Aesthetics and the Reconstruction of Art (pp.52-95). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1993.

"Passion as 'Confused' Perception or Thought in Descartes, Malebranche and Hutcheson." Journal of the History of Ideas, 53, 397-424, September 1992.

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