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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Daniel J Griesbach
ENGL 354
Seattle Campus

American Literature: Early Twentieth Century

Investigates the period of American literary modernism (1900 to WW II). Topics include nationalism, migration, race, gender, and the impact of the visual arts on literary modernism, as well as the relation between modernity/modernization (social, economic, and technological transformation) and modernism (revolution in literary style).

Class description

A study of American writing between WWI and WWII, this class focuses on examples of literary modernism as responses to the larger social processes of modernization in the United States. Literary works are read for how they register the impact of historical events and changes that made the early 20th century seem "modern," or radically disjointed from the past: not only the Great War, the Great Migration, and the Great Depression, but also the appearance of new kinds of media (photography, radio, cinema), new technologies of the "machine age" (automobiles, moving assembly lines, mass advertising), and new intellectual and aesthetic currents (psychoanalysis, cubism, jazz). This course develops skills in analyzing how modernist writers grappled with the consequences of these historical changes through vigorous experimentation in language, narrative, and form (resulting in works that can still surprise and challenge us as readers!). Some significant focus will be placed on understanding the combination of heterogeneous genres, forms, and/or media within a single work, as well as how such combinations relate to the ideas and perspectives the authors wished to convey. Authors include: T. S. Eliot, Jean Toomer, Ernest Hemingway, William Carlos Williams, Willa Cather, Zora Neale Hurston, William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and James Agee. The primary mode of evaluation will be papers satisfying the "W" additional writing requirement.

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 Daniel J Griesbach
Date: 04/16/2009