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.
This course explores poetry and prose written during the early 20th Century. We will focus specifically on the literary developments of modernism in Europe and the United States. Modernism does not have a single clear meaning in that it developed across a variety of fields and styles in reaction to cultural and political changes during the end of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th Century. Applicable to either or both content and form, it reflects a sense of cultural crisis before and during the turn of the century and the two World Wars. This period, which was also marked by major developments in technology, was both exciting and disquieting, opening up a whole new sense of possibility while also promoting the destruction of old values and the dissolution of the belief in absolute knowledge and ideological certainty. Literary reactions to this sense of dissolution were varied and thus engendered the development of a new aesthetics of experimentation, fragmentation, ambiguity, and nihilism.
Course Readings: We will read poetry by Baudelaire, Rilke, Eliot, Pound, Williams, and Stein; prose by Woolf, Proust, Kafka and Hemingway; and philosophical excerpts by Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Benjamin and Wittgenstein. Texts will be available at the UW Bookstore and a course packet.
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