English 139

Upper Division Coursework: The Cultures of English: Culture of the Great War--Art in the Age of Decline

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2005 Jones, Donna V.
Jones, Donna
MWF 11-12 126 Barrows

Other Readings and Media

Lewis, W.: Tarr; selected writings of Gertrude Stein; Pick, D.: War Machine; Cesaire, A.: Notebooks on a Return to the Native Land; Fussel, P.: The Great War and Modern Memory; Carpentier, A.: The Lost Steps; Breton, A.: Nadja; Junger, E.: Storm of Steel; Toomer, J.: Cane; DuBois, W.E.B.: Dark Pincess, Manifestos: A Century of Isms


"The Great War set loose on the world an heretofore unimaginable scale of violence and destruction. In this five-year conflict 8.5 million people were killed and 20 million wounded--making a mockery of the now jejune anxieties of social degeneration and solar death. Leaving not only catastrophic economic and physical destruction in its wake, the Great War succeeded in toppling the stability of virtually every foundational concept of late-nineteenth-century Europe. The violently disfigured body of the foot-soldier shattered the image of the human-motor; the fragmented consciousness of the shell-shocked undermined the understanding of the mind as a mere ""chemical machine"" for the processing of sensory input; the devastated political and economic infrastructures of the ""Great Powers"" disabused positivist history of its faith in the necessity of progress, expansion and development; and at last, on the colonial front, the participation of black and brown combatants along with the carnage inflicted by one European nation on another tore apart the thin fa�ade of ""European prestige,"" the ideological pillar essential to the maintenance of imperial authority. This course will examine the literary and visual culture of the interwar years in light of social crisis. As the Great War was the first global conflict, the readings will move beyond the traditional Anglo-American response and include the works of intellectuals of continental Europe and the colonized world. "

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