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Cultivating Critical Thinking through Literary Theory

English Literature Seminar 4B (literary criticism) (subject at School of Humanities and Social Sciences)

Kaho Kaji/3rd-Year Student at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Jun 15, 2015

Many people may have trouble imagining the specific content of literature and cultural theory, viewing the subjects as abstract and impractical. However, in addition to aiding in the comprehension of novels, this subject cultivates critical thinking ability which can be applied to various issues in modern society.

This class uses the works of prominent British and American critics as textbooks. Although such works may seem difficult at first, Professor Koji Toko explains specialized terminology while providing familiar examples. This makes it possible to acquire a natural understanding of the content.

In class, students reassess novels and certain principles within a historical context. This assessment connects literature and social conditions. It also makes it possible to use a relative perspective to reconsider concepts which have become entrenched as common sense. During classes, students recognize that common sense is nothing more than values which have been temporarily and widely accepted by a certain community. Indeed, there is nothing absolute about common sense, and recognizing it as a relative concept cultivates an acute sense which is free from stereotypes.

Furthermore, at the beginning of classes, Professor Toko provides humorous advice for problems experienced by students in everyday life. This aspect of the class is famous among students. Of course, Professor Toko's advice is given from the perspective of literature and cultural theory, which exemplifies how obtaining knowledge in these fields can be of benefit in daily life.

By taking this class, students can recognize the danger of accepting common sense without critical thinking. Students have an awareness of the problem which they had casually accepted, and become able to assess such matters from their own perspective.

Advice given by Professor Koji Toko is a well-known part of classes


Kaho Kaji/3rd-Year Student at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences