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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Norman J. Wacker
ENGL 213
Seattle Campus

Modern and Postmodern Literature

Introduces twentieth-century literature and contemporary literature, focusing on representative works that illustrate literary and intellectual developments since 1900.

Class description

This course undertakes the impossible but exhilarating task of mapping a movement from modernist fiction and film anchored in imagined national communities to more recent work that engages the global and transnational settling and unsettling of community and communication. We will read selected James Joyce stories, Virginia Woolf’s Between the Acts, Graham Green’s The Third Man and Dubravka Ugresic’s The Museum of Unconditional Surrender. We will also screen Carol Reed’s The Third Man and Wim Wender’s Wings of Desire. Course requirements include close work with the primary texts and films, individual presentations and short essays on questions raised by individual works. W-credit.

Major Texts: Virginia Woolf, Between the Acts; James Joyce, Dubliners; Graham Green: the Third Man, Dubravka Ugresic, The Museum of Unconditional Surrender and essays by, Eliot, Woolf, Kincaid, Bayard and Lyotard.

Student learning goals

Read fiction closely for uses of language, conceptions of character, narrative and point-of-view.

Learn to move from close reading of instances to claims about their meaning and significance.

Develop larger oral and written arguments about what is at stake in your experirences as a close reader of each text.

Compare the experience of reading modern and contemporary texts, including approaches to reading emphasized by modern and contemporary critics.

General method of instruction

Close review and discussion of the required fiction in-class, informal overnight writing assignments about your reading experience, and a short response essay discussing a key point of interpretation for each of the fictions.

Recommended preparation

No pre-requisites.

Class assignments and grading

Work in this course uses your experience of a reader and conversations about those experiences with others in the class to build your knowledge of each work. Short night assignments your commit emerging observations and ideas to writing. This informal writing acts as a platform to a short analytical essay on the work due each week.

Response essays are graded, and the average of your four essays counts toward 80%. Participation (completing ovenight writing, active participation in class discussion and peer writing groups) is 20% of the course grade.


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.
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Last Update by Norman J. Wacker
Date: 05/27/2009