Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Modernisms and Modernities

ENGL 059.401
instructor(s):
TR 9-10:30
fulfills requirements:
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major

This course serves as an introduction to the literature of modernism with a particular focus on British literature in the opening decades of the twentieth century.  These decades were marked by social and sexual revolution, colonialism in crisis, and the rise of mass culture and advertising. As we move through the syllabus, we will ask – along with the modernists themselves – what is the role of literature in this era of social change?  Students will learn how to close read a literary text, as well as gain a critical understanding of concepts including modernity, representation, desire, avant-garde, and mass culture.  Course readings may include:  Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent, H.G. Wells’s Tono-Bungay, James Joyce’s Dubliners, Rebecca West’s Return of the Soldier, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, and selections from the writings of Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, and Walter Benjamin. Course requirements include two short papers and a final exam.