This course will review the much-discussed and debated history of "modernism" as an artistic category and a historical movement. Along with close examination of individual texts and other materials, we will explore such issues as the changing meanings of modernism over the past eight or so decades; the connections between modernist aesthetic practice and the contested ideologies of the early twentieth century; the exclusions that have necessarily been entailed by modernism's selective inclusions; and – inevitably – what is/was postmodernism?
Primary sources will include fictional and non-fictional texts, along with representative examples of painting, architecture and music. Among the authors to be included: Henry James, Henry Adams, Joseph Conrad, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner, Sigmund Freud, Gertrude Stein, John Dos Passos. We will also examine (in translation) at least two contemporaneous non-anglophone writers whose work may permit some additional perspective on the subjects under study: Franz Kafka and Lu Xun.
Secondary sources (located on the reserve shelf in the library) will include a number of historical and theoretical studies that illuminate the shifting emphases and imperatives in modernist scholarship.
Requirements will include: (1) regular attendance and participation in class discussion; (2) an oral report on one of the primary texts; (3) a research essay of twelve pages due near the end of the term. Detailed instructions with respect to (2) and (3) will be distributed at the first class.