Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

The Modernist Hero in the age of the

ENGL 773.401
instructor(s):
T 12-3

This seminar will address the constitution of a specific type of hero in the age of modernism. It will explore the genealogy of the modern notion of the hero -- going from Carlyle on "Hero-Worship" to conceptions of religion and nationalism relying on patterns of values tied to heroism. Moving from the issue of a Christian "imitation" of the hero to the creation of figures of anti-heroism, we will explore a few texts by Conrad, Joyce, H.D., Ayn Rand, Kazantzakis, Hermann Broch and a few others, plus a few theoretical texts by Freud and Rank dealing with the issue of "daydreams" and projections into fictional heroic figures. The psychoanalytic theme will be linked with the esthetic problematic of the sublime as developed by Kant, Lacan, Zizek and a few others.

1. Carlyle: On Hero Worship. See also Sartor Resartus -- the Romantic hero vs. the Victorian hero.

2. Jesus as a hero: Lives of Jesus by Renan and Strauss. The concept of the imitation of the hero.

3. Rank on the Birth of the National Hero: heroism and nationalism. Yeats.

4. Conrad's invention of the anti-hero: Lord Jim.

5. Joyce: the Artist as hero, from Stephen Hero to A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man� (see also Lermontov's A Hero of Our Time)

6. Who is the hero of Ulysses?

7. The non-hero of Joyce vs. Kanzatzakis's The Oyssey, A Modern Sequel.

8. Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead� I

9. Ayn Rand II

10. HD's fictions vs. Dorothy Richardson (Pilgrimage) are these "heroines"?

11.� Hermann Broch The Sleepwalkers

12. From Hermann Broch to Robert Musil (The Mann Without Qualities) and Thomas Bernhard (Correction).

13.� Beckett's "zeroes", from Watt, Molloy and The Unnamable.