The Twentieth-Century Novel: The Nightmare of History
This course seeks to introduce students to the modern novel by considering several works in the context of major social and political upheavals of the twentieth century. We will trace the fate of modernism across the century, considering formal innovations in the novel against the background of migration, colonialism, industrialization, fascism, the World Wars, racism, class conflict, and shifts in the meaning of gender and sexuality. The course focuses in particular on the relationship between violence and subjectivity and on questions of memory, trauma, and history: we will read these novels as responses to a set of disorienting and disturbing historical events. Works by Joseph Conrad, Theodore Dreiser, James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, Franz Kafka, Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, Ralph Ellison, Chinua Achebe, J.M. Coetzee, Gayl Jones, Jamaica Kincaid, and W.G. Sebald. Work for the course will include several short response papers, a longer final paper, and a final exam.