ENGL 540 A: Modern Literature

Introduction to British Modernism

Meeting Time: 
MW 11:30am - 1:20pm
SMI 109
Jessica Burstein
Jessica Burstein

Additional Details:

This course does four things: orient the student with an overview of British modernism circa 1900-1930; provide a general background for modernity torqued toward aesthetics; engage some current critical conversations in the field of literary modernism; and allow focus on the work of particular authors.

The class is loosely organized around two rubrics, minds and matter: we will engage embodiment and materiality, with particular attention to the status of mind or mindedness on the one hand and the modernist object on the other. Along the way the student will get a grip on the historical avant-gardes of Vorticism and Imagism—that's history—and some sense of how to do research in periodical studies, arguably one of the major legacies we have from the era—that's methodology and history.

Texts include prose (Conrad's The Secret Agent; Ford's Good Soldier, West's The Return of the Soldier; a story by Woolf, poetry (Loy, Pound, Eliot), and essays and manifestos, and perhaps Wyndham Lewis's Tarr if a decent copy is available (there are several issues floating about and only one is worthy at the introductory level, by my lights).

Students will write a 1,000 word book review of a critical monograph published 2011-13 (chosen by them, approved by me); and a 20 page final research paper.

Suggested pre-class reading: A canter through Levenson's The Genealogy of Modernism for theoretical grounding—as in (a wonderfully lucid account of) the philosophy that the modernists were reading—and Ekstein's Rites of Spring for event. Too, check out The Modernist Journals Project online—try Blast under "journals."

Editions are likely to be:

1. Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent: A Simple Tale (Oxford World Classics; Oxford University Press) ISBN: 0192834770

2. Ezra Pound, Selected Poems (New Directions, ISBN 0-811-201-627)

3. Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier: A Tale of Passion (1927) Ed. Martin Stannard. (2nd edition; Norton Critical Ed.) ISBN-10: 039392792X; ISBN-13: 978-0393927924

4. T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land and Other Writings, ed. Mary Karr Modern Library Classics, ISBN: 0375759344

5. Rebecca West, The Return of the Soldier (1918) Penguin USA (Paper); ISBN: 014118065X

6. Mina Loy, The Lost Lunar Baedeker (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, ISBN 0-374-52507-2)

GE Requirements: 
Other Requirements Met: 
Last updated: 
March 24, 2016 - 11:24am