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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Paul A Jaussen
ENGL 336
Seattle Campus

English Literature: Early Twentieth Century

Experiments in fiction and poetry. Novels by Joyce, Woolf, Lawrence, and others; poetry by Eliot and Yeats and others.

Class description

Paradoxes of the New: British Modernism, 1900-22

In this course we will study a number of texts that constitute early British modernism, moving from the impressionist narratives of the late 19th-century to the high modernist trilogy of works published in1922: James Joyce’s Ulysses, T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, and Virginia Woolf’s Jacob’s Room. As you can tell from this list, our approach will be necessarily international: Joyce was from Dublin; Eliot, from St. Louis. Joseph Conrad, who we’ll also read, was born in Poland. We will also examine key philosophical texts from the period to trace their influence on the literary world. In other words, our focus is national, but our approach will be interdisciplinary and comparative.

As we read, we will pay particular attention to artistic experimentation and the way those formal developments result in a number of paradoxes. These paradoxes largely turn on the problem of “modernism” itself. Simply put, what does it mean to be modern? How does one, in Ezra Pound’s words, “make it new”? And what happens when your new thing becomes old, or, as this class’s very existence attests, institutionalized and canonical? Does modernism necessarily destroy itself?

Exact readings to be determined, but you can expect to see some formally, conceptually, and philosophically demanding works. Unfortunately, we will not have the time to read Ulysses in its entirety. Students should be prepared to actively discuss the readings, write two short papers, develop those papers into a final essay, collaborate on a group project, and, if required, take reading quizzes.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Paul A Jaussen
Date: 03/02/2011