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Instructor Class Description

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Travis J Sands
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

American Modernities. This course will explore the aesthetic practices and epistemologies through which Americans came to understand themselves as "modern" during the inter-war years. Addressing the aesthetic, economic and technological innovations often said to characterize American modernity, we will consider how writers of the time framed "the modern" and "modernity" (and the attendant ideologies of innovation, newness, originality and progress) in and through logics of gender, sexuality, race, class and migration. In the process, we will also pinpoint how and the extent to which "American modernity" gathered ideological coherence through a production of the "non-modern" as a domain of dissident and "perverse" sexual, racial and gender formations.

Students should expect to read works by W.E.B. DuBois, Djuna Barnes, Gertrude Stein, Claude McKay, Nella Larsen, Nathanael West, Richard Bruce Nugent, John Dos Passos, Robert Park, Zora Neale Hurston, Frederic Winslow Taylor, Ernest Hemmingway and Jean Toomer, and a handful of critical essays by figures such as Theodor Adorno, Fredric Jameson, Huston Baker, Raymond Williams, Siobhan Somerville, Roderick Ferguson and Nayan Shah. Grades will be based on engaged participation, several short essays, and an 8 page final paper.

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 Travis J Sands
Date: 09/27/2010