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The Twentieth Century

ENGL 104.601
instructor(s):
T 5:30-8:30

English 104 focuses on several of the most important themes and authors in twentieth century Anglophone literature, as well as some texts in English translation. Our class will begin with two very different analyses of modern consciousness: W.E.B. Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk (1903), a philosophical and cultural analysis of Afro-American subjectivity; and Rudyard Kipling’s Kim (1901), a picaresque tale set in British Imperial India. The manifestoes of the Futurists, Dadaists, and Imagists will introduce us to the plural nature of literary modernism: we will then go on to read works by James Joyce (Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man [1914-15]); W. B. Yeats (Four Plays for Dancers [1921]); T. S. Eliot (The Waste Land [1922]); and Virginia Woolf (A Room of One’s Own [1929]). From these touchstones of ‘high’ modernism, we will make a brief detour into popular fiction, reading Dorothy L. Sayers’s detective story, Gaudy Night (1935), in the light of Woolf’s theories about the history of women’s writing and education.

Moving onto the terrain of postcolonial and postmodern writing, we will begin with Raja Rao’s Kanthapura (1938), written at the height of the Indian independence movement, then go on to read Kamau Brathwaite’s The Arrivants: A New World Trilogy (1967-73), written in the aftermath of West Indian independence. Our final sessions will focus on distinct versions of postmodern fiction: Toni Morrison’s traumatic historical novel, Beloved (1987), and J. G. Ballard’s evocation of millennial corporate psychopathy, Super- Cannes (2000).