British modernists famously conceived of their work as representing, and enacting, a radical break with their Victorian forebears. This course will turn to novels, short stories and poems written between 1910 and 1930 to investigate how modernist writers articulated their sense of a new cultural era through literary innovations in both content and form. We'll take into account cultural developments – such as the onset of World War I and the race for Empire, the growth of feminism and labor struggles – in shaping the sense of a new moment in history. We'll also seek to specify what was involved with the modernist bid to leave behind the world view of the Victorians: on what terms was this accomplished, and why? And, perhaps even more importantly: what are the possibilities and limits inherent in the project of breaking with the past?
Texts include short stories by Katherine Mansfield and James Joyce, poetry by T.S. Elliot and Thomas Hardy, and novels by Ford Maddox Ford, E.M. Forster and Virginia Woolf. Course requirements include assigned readings, a group presentation, short writing assignments leading up to a final essay, and active class participation.