Literary Modernism

4:00p-5:15p TR (30) 3 cr.

The modernists revolutionized the ways in which we understand not only art and literature, but also gender, race, class, and history. On the one hand, these artists and writers systematically challenged the ideals and norms of nineteenth-century art. Arguing that new art should reflect and respond to its surroundings, they borrowed both the forms and content of a changing industrial world--from machines, from science, from war, from advertising. But, conversely, modernists argued that the new art can also serve to influence and direct that world. Their artistic innovations were explicitly aligned with the feminist, nationalist, and labor movements of the period. The revolutionary energy of their work pulsed with the hopes of both world wars as well as with the political movements that inspired those conflicts. This class will discuss and debate the modernist "project," its aesthetic as well as political aspirations, and assess the relative goals and successes of some of its major works. We will attempt to define the categories by which the modernists understood and argued about their culture and the impact that those categories have had on our culture today.

Discussions and papers will likely focus on Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness; James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway; poetry by T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, H.D., Mina Loy, and Wilfred Owen; paintings and sculptures by Paul Cezanne, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, F. T. Marinetti, Umberto Boccioni, Wassily Kandinsky, Marcel Duchamp, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Jacob Epstein, David Bomberg, Duncan Grant, Roger Fry, and Vanessa Bell.

This is a discussion-based course, so both attendance and participation are mandatory. Students will be assigned response papers, three exams, and two formal papers.