A BRIEF SURVEY OF LITERARY THEORY, PART 1

Taken from Louis Menand's undergraduate Harvard English class on literary theory. In order, the readings listed here pair well with those listed in part 2. Most of these texts are accessible free online or in the Norton Anthology of Literary Theory, a fantastic resource.
  1. Plato, The Republic Book X
  2. Plato, Phaedrus
  3. Aristotle, Poetics
  4. Horace, Ars Poetica
  5. Longinus, On Sublimity
  6. Dante, Letter to Can Grande
  7. Sir Philip Sidney, The Defense of Poetry
  8. John Dryden, "An Essay of Dramatic Poesy"
  9. Samuel Johnson, from "Preface to Shakespeare"
  10. Friedrich von Schiller, "Naïve and Sentimental Poetry"
  11. William Wordsworth, Preface to "Lyrical Ballads"
  12. Samuel Tyler Coleridge, from Biographia Literaria
  13. Edgar Allen Poe, "The Philosophy of Composition"
    A personal favorite -- deeply funny
  14. Karl Marx, from Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy
  15. Matthew Arnold, from "Sweetness and Light," in Culture and Anarchy
  16. Walter Pater, Preface and Conclusion to Studies in the History of the Rennaisance
    Another favorite -- ahead of his time
  17. Henry James, "The Art of Fiction"
  18. Oscar Wilde, from "The Decay of Lying" and Preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray
  19. T.S. Eliot, "Tradition and the Individual Talent"
  20. Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own
  21. John Crowe Ransom, "Criticism, Inc."