Matthew J Vechinski
Introduces twentieth-century literature and contemporary literature, focusing on representative works that illustrate literary and intellectual developments since 1900.
Not Merely “Transitional”: Literature Between Modernism and Postmodernism
This course is designed as a survey of British literature from roughly 1920 to 1970 that will pay special attention to how aesthetic aspirations of that time reflect social and historical circumstances. We will begin by reading two seminal texts of the 1920s, Woolf’s _Mrs. Dalloway_ and Eliot’s _The Waste Land_, in conjunction with critical pieces that seek to define modernism as a period or literary movement. From there we will move directly to theories of postmodernity written later in the twentieth-century and pair them with Angela Carter’s 1972 novel _The Infernal Desire Machines of Dr. Hoffman_. Then we will return to the 1930s and work our way back up the 1970s, considering the place of various works of British literature written between the easier-to-distinguish touchstones of modernism and postmodernism. We will look at how and why these poems and fictions exhibit aesthetic inclinations from either end of the spectrum. Our investigations will attempt to specify their value in their contemporary moment and today—not as mere “transitional texts” ahead of or behind the times, but as literary works meriting attention in their own right. Authors from the 1930s to the 1970s that we may read include Christopher Isherwood, Henry Green, Elizabeth Bowen, Basil Bunting, Samuel Beckett, W.H. Auden, Muriel Spark, Iris Murdoch, and Anthony Burgess.
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