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The Twentieth Century

ENGL 104.401
instructor(s):
TR 12-1:30

This general survey of twentieth-century American and British literature asks the question: "Why do authors 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 the old technology of written words. In the process, we'll also explore what it means to associate "importance" with "difficulty," discuss the changing relationship between authors and readers, and examine various standards of literary value.

Readings may include works by Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, Richard Wright, Robert Frost, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, Nathanael West, Langston Hughes, Allen Ginsberg, Frank O'Hara, Thomas Pynchon, and Toni Morrison. We'll end the class by thinking about what literature may look like in the twenty-FIRST century.

This class is intended as an introduction to literary study, and fulfills a General Requirement in "Arts and Letters." Requirements will include several short essays, a midterm and final exam, and both classroom and online participation.