English | Topics in International English Literature
L774 | 28102 | Brown

L774  28102  BROWN (#5)
Topics in International English Literature

2:30p – 5:30p R


Modernist critics have in recent years initiated a rethinking of
some of the most fundamental narratives and tenets of the field,
especially in relation to periodization and the question of literary
forms. Modernism, rather, becomes understood as a set of
interrelations that cross conventionally drawn historical and
generic lines. Many look to Arjun Appadurai’s idea of “modernity at
large” to theorize the expanding range of modernist formation,
motivated by the question of “where” rather than “when” or “what.”
Andreas Huyysen has suggested that such a categorical shift, while
laudable, may necessarily be limited because of modernism’s Western

In this class, we’ll think about modernist fundamentals. How does
the recent interest in transnationalisms—or what in modernist
criticism has been termed geomodernisms—redefine the terms through
which we understand modernism, or alternatively, reproduce them?
We’ll investigate the turn toward the global, question
whether “modernism” is a Western paradigm and aesthetic movement,
and think about the possibilities of a modernism more broadly
conceived by considering in particular some early-twentieth-century
Indian writing in English, as well as some canonical Anglo-modernist
works. In an influential essay, Fredric Jameson stages a “thought
experiment” around the possibility of understanding the
intersections of imperialism and modernism through the “Third World”
texts of Ireland. We’ll do something similar, and potentially more
complicated, by studying works self-consciously written in English
(rather than Tamil, Kannada, Bengali, and so on) in the years just
prior to Indian independence. We’ll also read a novel published last
year to test our ideas on periodization. This will be a class about
aesthetic, political, formal, geographical, and even spiritual cross-
currents in modernist era literature.

Students will write weekly response papers, one research paper, and
will be responsible for one in-class presentation.