Cross Currents in British and American Modernism
Modernist criticism has long considered the impact of expatriation to Europe on American writers, such as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Gertrude Stein and many others. This focus on “the lost generation” has become a cliché of popular treatments of such figures in fiction and film. The escape to Paris, in particular, dominates most of the attention, but many forget that London also was the locus for writers from the United States, and from the Commonwealth as well. In this seminar we will first explore the situation of two such writers: Katherine Mansfield (New Zealand) and T. S. Eliot (U.S.A.), and then reverse our attention to consider the impact of expatriation on British writers who moved to the United States: D. H. Lawrence, W.H. Auden, and Christopher Isherwood. Depending upon the interests of the seminar participants, we may expand our reading to look at additional Americans who came to London (such as Ezra Pound and H.D. [Hilda Doolittle] . and/or other British writers in the United States,( such as Nancy Cunard and Aldous Huxley). We will also consider the networks of artists, writers, and unconventional thinkers who were spreading their various political, spiritual, and sexual theories to particular American locales: Greenwich Village, Harlem, Taos, New Mexico, and Hollywood, for example. In so doing, we will be able to make connections between those activities in the late 1920s and 30s and countercultural movements in the United States during the last decades of the twentieth century.
Required Texts: Katherine Mansfield: Selected Stories; T. S. Eliot: “The Waste Land” and “Four Quartets”; D. H. Lawrence: The Woman Who Rode Away/St. Mawr/The Princess; W. H. Auden: Selected Poems; Christopher Isherwood: [class will decide which of his novels we should read as a group]