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Modernism: Dreams of a New Century

ENGL 210.601
instructor(s):
TR 5-6:15

As we approach the millennium, this course will take us “back to the future” as it was envisioned by writers and thinkers around the turn of our own century. Focusing on the technological, cultural and intellectual innovations that characterize the period (roughly 1890-1940), we will examine the implications and interrelations of modernism’s characteristic “new sciences,” among them, Freudian psychoanalysis, the early cinema, popular Darwinism and the technology of war. Special attention will be paid to the period’s (and our own) fascination with the “new” in all its forms, and to the phenomenon of modernism itself not only as an aesthetic movement or a distinct period in intellectual history, but also as a theoretical concept that remains vital in our own time and culture. Works to be studied include those by H.G.Wells, Vico, Wilde, Beckett, Freud, Joyce, Benjamin, Woolf, Vertov, the Lumiere brothers, and Hitchcock. Requirements will include an oral presentation on a text external to the syllabus, a mid-term essay and a final seminar paper.