When was Modernism?
This class will provide a survey of international modernism by historicizing it. Most critics agree that 1922 was the main year of modernism, giving birth to masterpieces associated with the concept, those canonical texts by Marcel Proust, Franz Kafka, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Rainer Maria Rilke, Katherine Mansfield, E.E. Cummings, Gertrude Stein and T. S. Eliot. We will read selections from these « monuments » before wondering when modernism began. This will take us back to the pre-war years, and we will examine earlier texts by Joyce, Rilke, T. S. Eliot, and Apollinaire. Finally, we will look for a possible closure by reading passages from texts like Cane (1923), As I Lay Dying (1930), Nausea (1938), The Day of the Locust (1939), and pages from Finnegans Wake (1939). A comparison between those « slices » of global cultural history offers a clear view of important trends and movements in the arts and literature. The years that produced modern masterpieces also saw the emergence of a “modern classicism,” a development ushering in the mixture of the new and tradition that has become the hallmark of modernism, thus turning it into a contemporary classicism. We will study passages from In Search of Lost Time, Ulysses, The Castle, The Enormous Room, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, The Duino Elegies, Geography and Plays, Jacob’s Room, The Garden Party, The Waste Land, As I Lay Dying, Nausea, The Day of the Locust and Finnegans Wake. All texts available online. Requirements: one oral presentation and two papers of 8 pages each.