Elizabeth C Brown
Introduces twentieth-century literature and contemporary literature, focusing on representative works that illustrate literary and intellectual developments since 1900.
“Modernism, Postmodernism, and the City” will introduce students to twentieth century literature through an exploration of modern and postmodern cultural genres in the context of urban growth, (im)migration, and capitalism in the U.S. We will begin by investigating the term “genre.” What is a “genre”? How do specific strategies of representation, like pastiche or fragmentation, come to be associated with generic categories like “modern” and “postmodern”? For the rest of the quarter, we will continue exploring genres of modernism and postmodernism by paying close attention to how they represent processes of urbanization. How does the “city” appear across the texts we read and what strategies do writers use to represent it? How do representations of the city link up with ideas about freedom and social control, past and future, economic innovation and waste? This course is designed to enhance your critical thinking skills by exploring these questions through close readings of prose fiction, poetry, critical essays, and manifestoes as well as art, architecture, and film. Texts you will need to purchase include F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Nella Larsen’s Quicksand, Paul Auster’s City of Glass, and Francisco Goldman’s The Ordinary Seaman. Additional texts will be collected in a course reader and will likely include selections from T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, John Dos Passos, Mina Loy, Alain Locke, Jean Toomer, Langston Hughes, Anzia Yezierska, Maria Helena Viramontes, and others. Grades will be calculated based on weekly reading responses, active classroom participation, exams, and a final paper.
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