British Lit 1900-1945

ENGLISH 251.01

SYNOPSIS OF COURSE CONTENT:  We will survey modern British and Irish literature from 1900 to the mid-1940s.   Our attention will chiefly be devoted to works of high-modernism considered in the context of modern British and Irish political and cultural history.  Among the issues to be raised in the course:  What formal and generic innovations characterized the modernist works of the early twentieth century?  What was the relationship between modernism and modernity?  How are we to think of those writers who eschewed the formal demands of high modernism?  How were artistic experiments and formal aesthetic practices related to wider cultural developments of modern society such as urbanization, secularization, mass warfare, the rise and consolidation of the nation state, and the advent of new technologies?  What was the relationship of this literature to the First World War, the rise of communism and fascism in Europe, and to British imperialism?  What special role have non-Anglo-Saxon and foreign-born writers played in the history of modern British literature?  What were the reactions of twentieth-century writers to the increasing democratization of modern society and to the changing place of women in public and private life?  Is modern British literature a national cultural phenomenon, an amalgam of discrete regional literatures, or a subspecies of a cosmopolitan global literature?

READING ASSIGNMENTS:  Readings will likely include several of the following: selected poetry by W. B. Yeats, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Mina Loy, H. D. (Hilda Doolittle), and W. H. Auden; dramas by Oscar Wilde, Yeats, Lady Gregory, and Eliot, fiction by Joseph Conrad, James Joyce, Rebecca West, Virginia Woolf, Jean Rhys, and Aldous Huxley; critical essays by Wyndham Lewis, D.H. Lawrence, Eliot, and Woolf.

EXAMINATIONS:  None

TERM PAPERS: Four essays of five pages (1500-2000 words) each.

GRADE TO BE BASED ON:  Essays, one-page weekly response papers, in-class participation.  Attendance is mandatory.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION/COMMENTS:  This course will mix lectures with in-class discussion.