Timothy J Welsh
Introduces twentieth-century literature and contemporary literature, focusing on representative works that illustrate literary and intellectual developments since 1900.
The 20th century is often characterized as a period of artistic and literary experimentation in which language, narrative, and form were stretched to their limits in the search for new forms of expression. Writers from this period sought to break from, make new, and/or poke fun at literary tradition and conventional language use. Their work, as a result, was controversial and even shocking at the time. Much of it is still considered quite difficult today. And yet, vestiges of these experimental techniques can be found in everyday experiences of contemporary, digital culture. This class will examine several of these "shocking" techniques including collage and montage, the fragmentation of identity, decentering of narrative, and others as they are manifested in representational works from the modern and postmodern era. My hope is that we will be able to use our familiarity with such contemporary cultural practices as the remixing readymade media-objects, telepresent communication and online identity performance, and surfing the internet with hyperlinks, in order to gain perspective on the aesthetic devices that have defined 20th-century literature.
Our approach will be somewhat scattershot as I am aiming to expose the class to a broad range of cultural production. Texts and topics will be drawn from Ezra Pound, Filippo Marinetti, Stephan Mallarme, Guillaume Apollinaire, Wyndham Lewis, William Gibson, John Dos Passos, Curtis White, Mark Leyner, TS Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Gertrude Stein, DJ Spooky, Toni Morrison, Kanye West, Jean Toomer, Nella Larsen, Jorge Luis Borges, Robert Coover, Shelley Jackson, Michael Joyce, Mark Danielewski, and a variety of other online media.
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