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Modernism, Distance, and Authenticity

ENGL 591.401
M 9-12:00

Using the career of Pound as one of the structuring continuities, we will look at modernism under competing rubrics. The first is the notion of history with its concomitant opposite "the new"; this is how many of the participants saw their activity, whether from the perspective of the avant-garde or what we now categorize as high modernism. The second notion is one that comes more easily to mind today, globalization.

The first notion should enable us to grasp some of the polarities that structure many accounts of modernism--innovation/tradition; iconoclasm/authority; totalization/fragmentation; coterie/community; while the second should open up a new approach I am especially interested in exploring, the contest between the authentic and the hoax.

Thus we'll look at Imagism closely in a variety of aspects: as a statement poetics; as a contestant in the battle of avant-garde or quasi-avant-garde groupuscles; as a chapter in the gender wars of Anglo-Am modernism; etc. But by looking at the Spectra Hoax, the project of a couple of American wannabe Imagists, the ways that exotic nationalism become salient.

We will study Pound, Eliot, Mina Loy, H. D. , Stein, the Surrealists, Zukofsky, Rezikoff, and, a final rhyming anti-couple, Olson and Tolson. (Watch this space for a fuller description.)