This course is an introduction to some of the major movements that have shaped literary and cultural studies. We begin with influential ideas about language and meaning that arose in Structuralism and the New Criticism, then look at how these insights have continued to shape, and be challenged by, newer movements. We will look at the questions of history, identity, and power that came into focus in the 80s and 90s, as well as the issues of matter, nature, and experience that have gained prominence since the turn of the century. Throughout, we will ask how theory is tied to the act of reading, understood broadly as the process of making sense that occurs when we encounter a literary or cultural object in any medium. That is, how is theory brought to bear on literary and cultural objects and, in turn, transformed through that encounter? How do the objects we read themselves theorize?