English 250

Research Seminar: Ethnic Modernisms

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
2 Fall 2016 Lee, Steven S.
Tues. 3:30-6:30 129 Barrows African American Literature
Chicana/o and/or Latina/o
Asian American Literature
World Literature
Literary Theory
Graduate Courses

Book List

McKay, C: Banjo; Toomer, J: Cane


This seminar will explore the convergence of modernist and ethnic cultures in twentieth-century America and Europe, placing race and ethnicity in dialogue with the modernist compulsion to "make it new" and the avant-gardist compulsion to bring art into life.  The aim of these juxtapositions will be to arrive at new understandings of both ethnicity and modernism--specifically, new ways of thinking about these terms in relation to space, time, identity, and aesthetics.  After gaining a firm grounding in critical race theory and theories of modernism and the avant-garde, we will examine a wide range of novels, poems, films, and paintings.  Our focus will be on American minority artists drawn to modernist experimentation (for instance, Langston Hughes’s translations of Vladimir Mayakovsky), but also on modernist engagement with non-Western cultures (for instance, Pablo Picasso’s incorporation of African masks).  How do the aims of ethnic literature (cultural recognition, the disruption of canons) correspond with the aims of modernism and the avant-garde?  How does the juxtaposition of these terms help us to see beyond the fissures contained within each, as well as to bridge the larger divide between art and politics?

Most readings will be distributed via bCourses.  We'll definitely be reading McKay's Banjo and Toomer's Cane; other texts for purchase will be announced at the first class meeting.

This course satisfies the Group 5 (Twentieth Century) or Group 6 (Non-historical) requirement.

Other Recent Sections of This Course

Spring, 2019
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
250/1 Research Seminar: Philosophical Idealizations of Art and Modernist Practices Altieri, Charles F.
Fall, 2018
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
250/3 Research Seminar: Textual Communities and the Modern Picciotto, Joanna M
250/4 Research Seminar: Evolution and Literary Form, 1800-1900 Duncan, Ian
Spring, 2018
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
250/2 Research Seminar: Ways of Knowing, Ways of Representing in Eighteenth-Century English Fiction Sorensen, Janet
250/3 Research Seminar: Milton and the English Civil War Kahn, Victoria
250/4 Research Seminar: The Rhetoric of Technique Lavery, Grace
250/5 Research Seminar: Black Abstraction Best, Stephen M.
Fall, 2017
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
250/1 Research Seminar: Victorian Cultural Studies Puckett, Kent
250/2 Research Seminar: How to Write a Book Kahn, Victoria
250/3 Research Seminar: Paranoid States: Empire and the Rise of the Surveillance State Saha, Poulomi
250/4 Research Seminar: Gender, Sexuality, Modernism Abel, Elizabeth
Spring, 2017
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
250/1 Research Seminar: Wordsworth and Coleridge in Collaboration Goodman, Kevis
250/2 Research Seminar: Modernism in Poetry and in Art Altieri, Charles F.
250/3 Research Seminar: Idols and Ideology—Readings in Augustine, Milton, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Hobbes, Kant, Marx, Freud, Althusser Kahn, Victoria
Fall, 2016
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
250/1 Research Seminar: Representing Non-Human Life in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Britain Picciotto, Joanna M
250/3 Research Seminar: Literature and the Brain Gang, Joshua
Spring, 2016
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
250/1 Research Seminar: Capitalist Crisis and Literature Gonzalez, Marcial
250/2 Research Seminar: The Limits of Historicism Best, Stephen M.
250/3 Research Seminar: How It Strikes a Contemporary: Reading the Novel in the 21st Century Snyder, Katherine
Snyder, Katie
250/4 Research Seminar: Modernism's Metaphysics Blanton, C. D.

Back to Semester List