Literature in English: Mid-19th Through the 20th Century
Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady
; Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray;
William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury
; Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
; Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
; Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49
and Ramazani, Ellmann, and O’Clair (eds.), The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry, vol. 1.
This course examines a range of British and American texts from the period with an emphasis on literary history and its social and political contexts. We will focus on the emergence, development, and legacy of modernism as a set of formal innovations that also help us see how literature operates as a means of cultural response. We will also consider modernism alongside other literary modes and styles (realism, naturalism, postmodernism) that look to different ways of representing the experience of the modern world—and of finding a place for literature within it. Particular attention will be paid to close reading and questions of literary form even as we think about such larger issues as the relationship between reading and entertainment, the changing status of art in respect to new technologies of information and representation, and the challenges to traditional conceptions of the self that are posed by new languages of psychological, national, and racial identity.
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