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The Twentieth Century: Why Keep Writing?

ENGL 104.601
T 6:30-9:10

This general survey of 20th century American and British literature asks the question: "Why keep writing, in a time of new and seemingly more effective media of communication and expression?" Indeed, what can literature offer that radio, motion pictures, music, telephones, comic books, painting, television, and the Internet cannot? We'll look at literary responses to this flood of competing forms, and concentrate on the new ways twentieth-century writers use language to make literature as compelling as the movies, as personal as the telephone, as urgent, as the news. In looking at how writers adapt to the necessities of the 20th century, we may read works by Virginia Woolf, T.S Eliot, Wallace Stevens, Richard Wright, Robert Frost, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, Nathanael West, Langston Hughes, Allen Ginsburg, Frank O'Hara, Thomas Pynchon, and Toni Morrison. We'll end the class by thinking about what literature may look like in the 21st century.