This course is an introduction to one of the most explosive and innovatory periods in British literary history. Our primary task will be to read a sequence of novels as intensely and carefully as possible. We will ask questions such as: How did 20th century novelists respond to the literary forms and practices they inherited from the Victorians? How was the very concept of the "novel" defined and redefined? What are the new ways in which 20th century writers use language? What do the terms "Modernism" and "Postmodernism" mean? What do these novels tell us about a larger social and political context that includes the Great War, the dissolution of the British Empire, the advent of modern technology, the Irish question, the status of women in society, and the relation of Britain to its former colonies? What do these texts say about the past--especially the literary past? Our overarching goal, then, will be to examine how writers met the cognitive, ethical, aesthetic, and political challenges that faced them during this eventful century. Authors may include: Conrad, Joyce, Woolf, Waugh, Beckett, Orwell, Fowles, Murdoch, Naipaul, and Rushdie; at least three essays will be required.