ENGL 354 B
Professor Monika Kaup
American Literature: Early Twentieth Century (Catalog Designation)
American Modernisms (Course Title)
An introduction to the literature of American modernism (ca. 1900 to WW II), with a focus on fiction. The course places representative works in relation to literary culture and social and historical context and points out continuities between American modernists and the international arts movement. Topics covered include literary style, nationalism, migration, race, gender, and the impact of the visual arts on literary modernism, as well as the relation between modernity/ modernization (social, economic, and technological transformation) and modernism (revolution in literary style). Modernism’s watchphrase, “Make It New!,” the impulse for artistic innovation, was a response to economic, technological, and social modernization.
We will study different varieties of experimentalist writing and outlooks on modernity: stream-of-consciousness fiction (Faulkner, Stein), minimalism (Hemingway), the neobaroque (Djuna Barnes), modernisms of color (Paredes), epiphanic modernism (Anderson, Cather), and developments towards anti-representational abstraction (Stein). If there is one key objective to this class, it is to gain an in-depth understanding of the staggering diversity—and partial incompatibility—of the trends and styles that the term “American modernism” encompasses. Modernism is not one; we need to speak of modernisms in the plural.
Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises (Simon & Schuster) ISBN 0-684-80071-3
Djuna Barnes, Nightwood (New Directions) ISBN 0-8112-0005-1
Gertrude Stein, Three Lives (Dover Thrift) ISBN 0-486-28059-4
William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying (Norton Critical Edition) ISBN 978-0-393-93138-9
Américo Paredes, George Washington Gómez (Arte Público Press) ISBN 1-55885-012-0
Willa Cather, The Professor’s House (Random House ISBN 0-679-73180-6)
… and a small course reader with short stories by Sherwood Anderson and secondary readings
NOTE: I encourage you to buy the editions I’ve ordered because we will be referring to these editions in class and because it will make exam preparations easier for you.