English | Literatures in English 1900-Present
E304 | 1887 | Wiles

11:15a-12:30p TR (30) 3 cr.


Since it is impossible to design a single course to cover World
Literature in English in the Twentieth Century, we would be wise
to concentrate on some dominant themes, stylistic innovations, and
some undiscovered countries or at least newly-discovered countries
(for the map of English literature anyway). I have organized this
section of E304 around themes which have had world-wide impact
in our era, and around a poetic tradition which has come to
exemplify "the modern" or modernism. And if we are to study the
global reach of English in this century, one theme stands out; the
act of crossing cultural borders, recognizing cultural imperialism,
and being able to listen to many voices. In fact, a key text in this
course is an anthology titled CONCERT OF VOICES: AN

Classes will be conducted through lectures and discussions. I will
encourage you to write a number of short responses, sometimes
shared on e-mail, and to submit a well-crafted two-page response
paper every second week. There are two examinations. In the first
half of the course, we will alternate between prose and drama
readings chosen for their themes, and poetry drawn from the
modernist canon. (The poets are also the subject of a video series,
VOICES AND VISIONS, which I want us to utilize; the poetry is
found in a companion anthology edited by Robert DiYanni,
MODERN AMERICAN POETS.) In the second half of the
semester, using the anthology CONCERT OF VOICES, we will
survey African, Caribbean, Asian, and Indian enclaves of English-
language literature, and reflect on how our own home culture fits
into this mosaic.

Themes we will explore in this course include the impact of
communism and other totalitarian systems (illustrated by dystopian
fiction like Orwell's 1984 and Atwood's THE HANDMAID'S
TALE); the promise and peril of science, including the nuclear
threat and the advent of the computer (seen in Beckett's play
ENDGAME and Pynchon's novel THE CRYING OF LOT 49);
and the connection between imperialism and myths about gender
and sexuality (viewed in Churchill's CLOUD 9, Hwang's M.
BUTTERFLY, and the anthology of world writing in English).