ENGL 213 A: Modern And Postmodern Literature

Modernism after Postmodernism

Meeting Time: 
TTh 12:30pm - 2:20pm
LOW 201
Jessica Burstein
Jessica Burstein

Syllabus Description:

Modernism after Postmodernism

What did modernism do to us? Has it stopped doing it? What is the “post-” in “postmodernism” doing there? This course introduces the student to both modern and postmodern prose, mostly American and British, but with a few moments hopefully not lost in translation. The unreliable narrator, the fragmentation of time and space, the undoing of the status of the authentic in the name of the rise of the "culture of the copy"—all of these are some markers of modernism, and might well have been established before late capitalism and the 21st century rolled around.

            Moving back and forth between modern and postmodernist fiction, this class will pair a few indubitably modernist literary texts with their later-born literary twins—so for instance we'll engage Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891) and read it against the English writer Will Self's Dorian: An Imitation (2002); and pair Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway with Cunningham’s The Hours, the title of refers to (one of) Woolf’s “original” titles for what turned into Mrs. Dalloway. In addition, the class will pay attention to imitations, forgeries, fragments, and copies in order to explore the status of the original—or whether there is an original. We will also look at representations of inner experience; and attune the student to matters of literary form. Reading will range from Lydia Davis to Borges, with Angela Carter, Jenny Offill, and Ian McEwan’s latest novel, told from the perspective of a surprisingly articulate fetus.

            This course doesn't presume prior knowledge of literary history, but it does require that the reader be alert, assiduous and articulate. There will be papers and a final exam, the latter involving short answer and the identification of passages.

Here are the texts: *get these editions*

Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891) Norton Critical Edition, ed. Michael Patrick Gillespie ISBN: 0393927547

Will Self, Dorian: An Imitation (Grove Press, ISBN-13: 978-0802140470)

Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway, ed. Mark Hussey (Mariner Books, ISBN-10: 0156030357 ISBN-13: 978-0156030359)

Michael Cunningham, The Hours (Picador, ISBN-13: 978-0312243029)

Jenny Offill, Dpt of Speculation (Vintage Contemporaries, ISBN-13: 978-0345806871)

Ian McEwan, Nutshell (Nan Talese: paperback not out until too late) ISBN-13: 978-0385542074

Lydia Davis, Can’t and Won’t (Picador, ISBN-13: 978-1250062437)

Catalog Description: 
Introduces twentieth-century literature and contemporary literature, focusing on representative works that illustrate literary and intellectual developments since 1900.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
January 10, 2018 - 10:01pm