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The Twentieth Century

ENGL 104.401
The Twentieth Century

One of the more enduring slogans of this century is Ezra Pound's "Make it new!" Many artists who would come to be called modernists felt, in the early part of the century, that the work they were producing was changing the way people saw the world and thus the way that people lived. Much modernist poetry, fiction, art and music still retains the power to surprise and challenge, but the question that arises from our vantage point of 1999 is: has the work produced by modernists, avant-gardists, and postmodernists stayed as new as history itself? The history of this century has moved with almost numbing rapidity: war, consumerism, changes in gender-roles (women voting, birth-control), racial and ethnic conflict, and the profound reorganization in our sensory and psychic environment effected by technology and the media--perhaps art has only begun to catch up to these explosive changes.

To begin to answer this question we will look at a range of poetry (T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, Mina Loy, Langston Hughes, Allen Ginsberg, John Cage), fiction (Franz Kafka, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, Dashiell Hammett, Ralph Ellison, Philip Roth, Zora Neale Hurston, E. L. Doctorow, Salmun Rushdie), as well as some art, music, and film.

Requirements: 3 papers, a midterm, and a final.