Joss Marsh

4:00p-5:15p MW (30 students) 3 cr., A&H.

This course will examine crucial strands in twentieth-century literature against a broad cultural and historical background: modernity’s Victorian legacy; the “Hollywood Dream factory,” the “Jazz Age,” and the Depression; “High Modernism’s” protest against mass culture and the rediscovery of myth; the artistic fallout of World War II and the Holocaust; the African-American struggle for a voice; the (pornographic and blasphemous) limits of “literature” and readerly tolerance; and changing perceptions of identity, especially female identity, and of the writer, especially the woman writer. Authors and texts studied will include: Virginia Woolf’s fictionalized reminiscence of Victorian childhood, To the Lighthouse; James Joyce and T.S. Eliot (The Wasteland); F. Scott Fitzgerald “Jazz Age” masterpiece The Great Gatsby; substantial selections from Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath and James Agee’s and Walker Evans’s ground-breaking photo-essay, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men; Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God and poetry of the “Harlem renaissance”; George Orwell’s scathing political satire 1984; W.B. Yeats’s bleak poems of old age and global conflict; Alan Ginsberg’s “beat” classic Howl; “famous author” D.H. Lawrence’s “shameful book,” Lady Chatterley’s Lover, and the landmark legal case it spawned in 1960; poetry by Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton; playwright Samuel Becket’s dystopic Endgame; and Salman Rushdie’s post-colonial challenge to literature, religion, and nations, The Satanic Verses. The course will also draw on painting, photography, and cinema. Two midterms, two papers, a cumulative final examination, weekly discussion questions, and two short class reports/presentations.