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Spring 2014 Course Descriptions

English 5006  Studies in Twentieth-Century British Literature: Writing Like a Modernist

English 5006 Section 001   CRN 38093
Studies in Twentieth-Century British Literature: Writing Like a Modernist    1530-1800 W

Now that we’re post-postmodernism, it’s worth reexamining what the “modernists” themselves said about their writing and reevaluating the impact they’ve had on contemporary fiction. In its approach to reading literary texts, this class will draw from both literary studies and creative writing, looking at modern British novels—such as Ford Maddox Ford’s The Good Soldier, D. H. Lawrence’s The Rainbow, Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, George Orwell’s The Clergyman’s Daughter, and Jean Rhys’s Good Morning Midnight—in terms of their authors’ comments about craft, their literary and historical context, and their publication venues. In the process we’ll challenge some traditional binaries:  realism vs. experimentalism; modernism vs. postmodernism; and modernist vs. avant-garde. Reading the little magazines in which many of these writers first published as well as full-length novels, we’ll talk about the writers, editors, and publishers who, between 1908 and 1939, invented and marketed “modernism.” During the final portion of the semester, we’ll shift our attention to contemporary fiction (possibilities include Ian McEwan’s Atonement, Kazuo Ishiguro’s Remains of the Day, and Zadie Smith’s NW) to get a sense of how living writers have not only responded to but also absorbed the techniques of their modernist forebears. The final syllabus will be shaped in part by seminar members’ interests.  Requirements include class presentations, weekly responses, and at least one major writing project.