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The Twentieth Century

ENGL 104.950
instructor(s):

This course will encourage discussion of some of the most important socio-historical events of the twentieth century and their literary and cultural ramifications. We will read an absorbing set of novels and short stories (mainly contemporary works): Pat Barker's The Ghost Road, John Dos Passos's The Big Money, Nathanael West's The Day of the Locust, Rachel Seiffert's The Dark Room, Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day, Don DeLillo's White Noise, and David Mitchell's Ghostwritten. A small selection of short stories by Ernest Hemingway, A.S. Byatt, and Salman Rushdie will be distributed and read in London. The issues raised by these works of fiction include the experience of two world wars and of modern urbanization, the effects of new technologies (such as the autobomile, the airplane, radio and cinema), the rise of psychotherapy, the modern fascination with the primitive, the decolonization of the "Third World," transnational migration, and globalization. The course will also involve visits to various sites in London that are relevant to the readings, including the Imperial War Museum, the Museum of the Moving Image, the Freud House, the Museum of the City of London, and specific exhibitions at the British Museum, and the Tate Gallery. Since some of the novels are rather long, students are urged to do most of the reading before coming to London.

Requirements: contributions to class discussions, a final paper, and a London research project based on our excursions.