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Crash: Economic Collapse and Aesthetic Innovation in 1930s U.S. Literature and Culture cancelled

ENGL 4980.302
Wednesday 3:30-6:29pm


Do hard times lead to great art? How do we explain the cultural efflorescence of the 1930s? Why, in the decade most associated with the Great Depression, were writers and artists able to produce such distinctive works, and why are so many of those works largely forgotten today? In this course, we will take a broad view of 1930s American culture, encompassing novels, poetry, plays, and movies. We will also read histories of the era, literary and cultural criticism addressing key texts, and theory that emerged amid the ferment of the 30s, both in the U.S. and abroad. In learning more about the period’s social conflicts along the lines of race, gender, and class, we will be able to pose questions about the conditions that shape literary and artistic forms. In turn, we will consider how art and literature reflect and intervene in those social conflicts. This course will devote substantial time to practice in research and writing methods, and it is ideal for students with interests in literature, film, and/or pop culture. Primary texts may include works by John Dos Passos, Muriel Rukeyser, Tillie Olsen, Richard Wright, H.T. Tsiang, Langston Hughes, Meridel Le Sueur, Orson Welles, and Charlie Chaplin.

This course is designed to familiarize students with research methods and current scholarship in the field of literary studies.



English Major Requirements
  • Sector 1 Theory and Poetics (AETP)
  • Sector 2 Difference and Diaspora (AEDD)
  • Sector 6 20th & 21st Centuries (AE20)
English Concentration Attributes
  • 20th-21st Century Concentration (AE21)
College Attributes
Additional Attributes