Penn Arts & Sciences Logo


ENGL 210.402
TR 9-10:30

What is modernism? What does it mean to be modern? Perched on the brink of a new century, this class will attempt to come to terms with modernism, largely by drawing upon the discourse of madness. Indeed, we'll begin by using our innate sense of millenialhysteria to imagine how our nineteenth century counterparts worried about their own fin-de-siecle. We'll set the stage with readings from Mathew Arnold and Nietzsche (among others), and then we'll begin to wend our way through modernist literature, from Conrad and James to Kafka and Woolf. Along the way we'll linger over selections from Freud (especially his analysis of "The Psychotic Dr. Schreber"), as well as more recent commentators on modernism. Finally, the class will conclude by considering the madness of fascism and its unspeakable "writing of distaster," the Holocaust.

fulfills requirements