English 213 explores U.S. and British literary modernism and postmodernism as responses to distinct historical, political, social, and cultural contexts of the 20th century. The period witnessed two world wars—and the concomitant development of military technology that brought destruction on an unprecedented scale—economic depression; the refinement of mass production methods; continuing migration from rural to urban areas; civil and women’s rights movements; the development or proliferation of transportation, communication, entertainment and computer technologies; and the effects of globalization. Modern and postmodern literature reflects as well as shapes human perception of these phenomena. As we examine novels and poems of the era, we will focus on how artists experimented with language and form to represent the altered sense of history, space, time, and self engendered by modernity and postmodernity.
Goals and Methodology
Students in the course work toward several goals:
- Analyzing the language, structure and themes of fictional texts,
- Explaining the relationship between selected 20th-century literary texts and the political, social, historical and cultural contexts of their production,
- Defining (and recognizing the limits of defining) literary modernism and postmodernism, and
- Developing as critical thinkers who can formulate substantive arguments and explore those arguments with evidence.
English 213 is a hybrid course, with students engaging course materials and one another in both face-to-face and online settings. Expect to spend roughly six hours per week meeting face-to-face and two hours per week in online discussion. Course activities promote active learning, incorporating a blend of mini-lecture, discussion, student presentations, and individual as well as group work. The course design—which includes frequent low-stakes writing assignments—reflects the importance of writing as a means of learning. My role is to provide the tools and resources you will need to advance your own thinking. I will pose questions, design activities to help you think through these questions, and respond to your ideas. Your role is to do the hard work—the close reading, discussion, and writing. You will analyze texts, present your interpretations via class discussion, presentations, and written assignments, and critically respond to others’ interpretations.