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Art in a Time of Crisis: the Literature of Great Depression

ENGL 263.301
instructor(s):
fulfills requirements:
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major
Elective Seminar of the Standard Major

 

What role does art, particularly literature, play in a society undergoing a crisis?  Should artists reflect the social issues of their time or should they try to use their art to intervene?  Does art in a time of crisis assert new values or attempt to buttress traditional ones?  This course will use the literature and the arts of the Great Depression as a way of reflecting on the current financial crisis:  The Great Recession.  Just as we do now, readers and authors in the 1930s faced economic, environmental, social, cultural and foreign policy crises. To examine these questions this course will examine a wide variety of different authors and genres, including novelists such as Pearl S. Buck (The Good Earth), William Faulkner (Light in August), John Steinbeck (The Grapes of Wrath), John Dos Passos (The Big Money), Margaret Mitchell (Gone With the Wind) and Zora Neale Hurston (Their Eyes Were Watching God),); short stories and essays by authors such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Tillie Olsen, and poems by authors such as Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Muriel Ruckeyser, T.S. Eliot, Langston Hughes, and Kenneth Fearing.