Henry J. Staten
Various modern authors, from Wordsworth to the present, in relation to such major thinkers as Kant, Hegel, Darwin, Marx, Nietzsche, Bergson, and Wittgenstein, who have helped create the context and the content of modern literature. Recommended: either ENGL 230 or one 300-level course in nineteenth- or twentieth-century literature.
We will read a variety of poems and fictional works from France, Germany, England, and the U.S. in order to get a sense of the complex phenomenon called “Modernism.” Modernism is a style, or cluster of styles, of writing that flourished from roughly 1910-1930, but the beginnings of which can be traced to France in the mid-19th century. Modernist writers explored areas of experience that literature had formerly neglected (extreme or even pathological states of mind, commonplace things and people, sexuality and other corporeal processes, and so forth), and in the course of this exploration they moved away from traditional literary forms, inventing radically new forms (of which the most familiar are free verse and stream of consciousness).
The first half of the course will be on the poetry of Baudelaire, Rilke, and T. S. Eliot; the second half on fictional works by Kafka (Metamorphosis, Woolf (Mrs. Dalloway, and Camus (The Stranger). You do not need to know anything about how to read poetry; I will teach you everything you need to know.
There will be a 2-3 page paper on Baudelaire due the second week (worth 20% of your grade); a 4-5 page mid-term paper on Rilke and Eliot (40 %); and a final, 4-5 page, paper on modernist fiction (40%). Your entire grade will be based on these three papers.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Class assignments and grading