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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

E. Laurie George
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

This course covers American literature written and published roughly between the two major world wars, 1914 - 1945, thus focusing on themes of modern war-torn America: alienation, absurdity of humane existence, mechanization, social and psychological fragmentation, indeterminacy of life, disenfranchisement. These themes "modernist" writers incorporated into texts implementing experimental techniques, verbally, visually, theoretically. Students will practice using various critical approaches rooted in historical and cultural contexts to move well beyond impressionistic evaluation of texts. Experimental fictional and prose writers and works likely to be covered in the course include those by Faulkner, Wright, Wharton, Hurston, Hemingway, Anderson, Evans, as will be a variety of modernist poets and playwrights.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Familiarity with basic literary genres and elements, various critical approaches to literature, beyond merely impressionistic and formal and including cultural and historical contexts, reader-response and reception theory. Familiarity using UW online English scholarly discipline databases, including those here: http://guides.lib.washington.edu/english

Class assignments and grading

weekly quizzes, objective and short out-of-class essay on readings; midterm and final in-class short essay; Preparation, thoughtful vocal participation in interpretive and evaluative debate.

weekly quizzes, objective and short out-of-class essay on readings; midterm and final in-class short essay; Preparation, thoughtful vocal participation in interpretive and evaluative debate.


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 E. Laurie George
Date: 08/05/2011