Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

The 20th Century

ENGL 104.601
M 6:30-9:10

This course will explore major currents of twentieth-century literature, with a focus on defining the elusive and often overlapping terms "Modernism" and "Postmodernism" and their manifold associations with both high and low culture. Although our primary object of study will be literature, we will also spend a good deal of our time examining twentieth-century visual art, philosophy, music, film, and architecture in order to elucidate the interdisciplinary nature of the century and to deepen our understanding of the literature we read in relation to the period as a whole. One of our most importaznt goals will be to strike a balance between an aesthetic and a socio-political view of twentieth-century literature and art. We will ask not only what social and historical conditions influenced certain groups and individuals in their production of certain works, but also why those works are (or are not!) beautiful. The reading list will include novels, short fiction, poetry, and plays by several of the following: Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Zora Neale Hurston, Samuel Beckett, Ernest Hemingway, Allen Ginsberg, Ralph Ellison, Tom Stoppard, Saul Bellow, Maxine Hong Kingston, Thomas Pynchon, Sylvia Plath, and David Foster Wallace. These will be complemented by short readings from Nietzsche, Sartre, Wittgenstein, Sontag, Jameson, Millett, and others. Some of the visual artists considered will include Picasso, Paul Klee, Rothko, Pollock, Helen Frankenthaler, Warhol, Eva Hesse, Bruce Nauman, and Cindy Sherman. Music will range from Arnold Schoenberg to Sinatra and Madonna; films from "Metropolis" to "Easy Rider;" architecture from Adolf Loos to Frank Gehry. Requirements: 3 essays (4-7 pp), a reading journal, and final exam.

fulfills requirements