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The Twentieth Century

ENGL 104.401
instructor(s):
TR 9-10:30

Now that the twentieth century has come to a close we can turn back and survey it. Not a pretty sight, if we think of the spectacle of mechanized mass-murder and destruction it offers, barely balanced by a few timid steps toward justice. However, in order to avoid repeating Stephen Dedalus's revulsion and escapism as he was trying to awake from "the nightmare of history" -- or the illusion that a "new order" can be created from "chaos", I suggest that we devise strategies by which we might "make it our own". To get a clearer insight into "my twentieth century", I have chosen a predominantly historical axis, moving through generic categories such as modernism, the avant-garde, classicism, and post-modernism, in order to understand the genesis of complex and contradictory movements of appropriation that often use parody, collage and ironical juxtaposition and have been baptized as "post-modern". We'll meditate on the critical temporality associated with this omnipresent "post-" that condemns "our" century to such an untimely obsolescence. This century has been marked by crucial artistic upheavals in literature, painting, music and the emergence of a visual culture dominated by film and television. The early discovery of the Unconscious and of repressed drives leading to a "society of the spectacle" of the Unconscious through endlessly reiterated images will lead us to add even more quotation marks to terms such as "culture" and "civilization". Using Butler's introduction to Modernism, we will read works by Joyce, Eliot, Toomer, Freud, Kafka, Borges, Rich, Ginsberg, Pynchon, Carver and Acker, see a few films and listen to the music of Arnold Schönberg.

Requirements: two short papers, quizzes, a midterm and a final.
Texts:
1 Butler Early Modernism
2 Joyce Dubliners
3 Toomer Cane
4 Nabokov Pale Fire
5 Pynchon The Crying of Lot 49
6 Carver Cathedral
Plus a bulk pack from Campus Copy (sections marked B)

1/16. Introduction: Main concepts: Modernism, avant-garde, classicism, postmodernism.
1/18. Butler Early Modernism. (1)
1/23. Butler Early Modernism (2). Schönberg's Erwartung.
1/25. Modernism and the City: from Joyce to Dos Passos.
1/30. "The Sisters" and first stories in Dubliners
2/1. From "Eveline" to "The Dead".
2/6. "The Dead"
FILM 1 The Dead
2/8. "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" (B)
2/13. "The Waste Land" (1)
2/15. "The Waste Land" (2)
2/20. Jean Toomer, Cane first part (B)
2/22. Introduction to Freud (in B)
FILM 2 Dr. Caligari
2/27. Kafka's parables (from The Basic Kakfa). (B)
3/1. Borges's parables: Labyrinths (B)
3/6. Borges's parables: Labyrinths (B)
3/8. Nabokov Pale Fire --- First paper due
3/20. Nabokov Pale Fire
3/22. Ginsberg Howl and other poems (B)
3/27. Adrienne Rich 1 (essays and poems, selection) (B)
3/29. Midterm
4/3. Adrienne Rich 2 (selection) (B)
4/5. Thomas Pynchon's early stories fromSlow Learner (B)
4/10. Thomas Pynchon The Crying of Lot 49
4/12. Thomas Pynchon The Crying of Lot 49
4/17. Carver Cathedral
4/19. Carver Cathedral
FILM 3 Short Cuts
4/24. Carver Cathedral
4/27. Recapitulation --- Second paper due