Among the most characteristic and interesting features of British "modernist" literature is the effort by a wide variety of playwrights, poets and novelists to express in their work those aspects of human experience that are by definition inexpressible. Joyce's exploration of the sleeping mind in Finnegan's Wake is among the most famous of such attempts; other writers have sought to plumb the silences that inhabit our dominant expressions of sexual identity (Oscar Wilde), nationalist politics (Yeats), and historical memory (Graham Swift). This course will explore the force of the unsaid, the unpresentable and the unspeakable within literary expression, while providing an introduction to some of the major issues, problems and themes that characterize the modernist movement more generally. Authors to be read include Oscar Wilde, George Moore, James Joyce, T. S. Eliot, Wilfred Owen, W. B. Yeats, Virginia Woolf, Samuel Beckett, Flann O'Brien, W. H. Auden, Marianne Moore and Graham Swift. Requirements for this course will consist of one oral presentation, one short paper (6-8pp) and a term paper (10-15 pp). No final exam.
Note: This course, sampling a variety of genres in the modern period, is not a "novel" course and cannot be counted in the concentration by majors concentrating in the novel as a genre; it is of course ideal for majors concentrating in the 20th century as a period.