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The Twentieth Century

ENGL 104.401
instructor(s):
TR 3-4:30

This course begins with two pivotal studies of consciousness from the beginning of the last century: Sigmund Freud's "On Dreams" and W.E.B. Du Bois's The Souls of Black Folk. Taking these works together, in both complementary and antagonistic ways, we will use them to provoke a series of questions about subjectivity, formal innovation, and racial difference in twentieth century texts. After looking at some key African-American texts from the 1910s and 1920s, the course will devote some time to some key texts of "high modernism"—T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse—before considering the consequences of modernism for American writers of the later twentieth century, including Ralph Ellison, Chester Himes, Raymond Chandler, and Harryette Mullen. We will also listen to some musical recordings and study a few films, considering the importance of these new media in the literary field.