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The Twentieth Century

ENGL 104.920
instructor(s):
TR 6-9:10

This course will explore major currents of twentieth-century literature, with a focus on defining the elusive and often overlapping terms "Modernism" and "Postmodernism" and their manifold associations with both high and low culture. Although our primary object of study will be literature, we will also spend a good deal of time examining twentieth-century visual art, philosophy, music, film, and architecture in order to elucidate the interdisciplinary nature of the century and to deepen our understanding of the literature we read in relation to the period as a whole. In doing so, we will ask not only what social and historical conditions influenced certain groups and individuals in their production of various works, but also why those works are (or are not!) beautiful. The reading list will include novels, short fiction, poetry, and plays by several of the following: Stein, Joyce, Eliot, Woolf, Hurston, Beckett, Hemingway, Ginsberg, Ellison, Stoppard, Maxine Hong Kingston, Pynchon, and Plath. These will be complemented by short readings from Nietzsche, Sartre, Wittgenstein, Sontag, Jameson, Millett, and others. Some of the visual artists considered will include Picasso, Klee, Pollock, Frankenthaler, Warhol, Eva Hesse, Bruce Nauman, and Cindy Sherman. Music will range from Schoenberg to Sinatra and Madonna; films from "Metropolis" to "Easy Rider"; architecture from Loos to Gehry. Requirements: 3 essays (4-7 pp), a reading journal, and final exam.