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Modernist Controversies

ENGL 259.920
TR 5:30-8:40

Perhaps the best way to understand the literature of the late Victorian and modernist periods is to study the controversies and debates that shaped it, and continue to effect our understanding of it. Accordingly, this seminar will focus each week on a literary controversy surrounding one main text. Topics and readings may include: Anthony Trollope’s The Warden (1855) and other critiques of Dickensian social realism; James McNeil Whistler’s Nocturne paintings and his libel trial against art critic John Ruskin (1877); Grant Allen’s The Woman Who Did (1895) and the New Woman controversies; Arnold Bennett’s The Old Wives’ Tale (1908), Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway (1925) and the debate over Edwardian realism; T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land versus the war poetry of Siegfried Sassoon, Rupert Brooke, and W.B. Yeats; the futurist manifestoes (1910-12) and contemporary responses, including BLAST (1914), Mina Loy’s poetry (1914-23) and Evelyn Waugh’s satirical novel Vile Bodies (1930). Course assignments will include one class presentation, one mid-length response paper, and one longer final research paper.