Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Modernisms and Modernities

ENGL 059.401
fulfills requirements:
Sector 1: Theory and Poetics of the Standard Major
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.