Syllabus: Spring, 2005
(1) M.H. Abrams and Stephen Greenblatt, eds. The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Vol. 2C: The Twentieth Century, 7th ed. New York and London: Norton, 2000. Hereafter cited as Abrams. ISBN: 0-393-97570-3
(2) Nina Baym, ed. The Norton Anthology of American Literature: Shorter Sixth Edition. New York and London: Norton, 2003. Hereafter cited as Baym. ISBN: 0-393-979695
Aims of Course:
(1) to expose the student to the linguistic, ethnic, religious and cultural diversity of literatures written in English;
(2) to situate the texts studied within larger patterns of historical development, such as the recently established hegemony of bourgeois modes of thought (rationalism, empiricism, utilitarianism, pragmatism, realism), the theory and practice of imperialism, modernisation, and the various reactions against these phenomena as embodied in movements of modernism, feminism, postmodernism and postcolonialism;
(3) to identify characteristics of modernism, realism and symbolism, and other movements; and to examine common themes, parallelisms, influences and contrasts through literature of different nations and cultures.
(4) to examine the interaction of Western and traditional/native ways of thinking and literary styles;
(5) to develop the student’s ability to read texts closely and critically, and to analyse them in an organised, coherent and persuasive manner, with due attention to their historical contexts.
A survey of literatures written in English in the twentieth century by authors from around the world, including Britain, America, Asia and Africa. These texts will be studied in their historical contexts, with due emphasis upon their interrelations. The themes and issues to be pursued include:
(1) the problematic status of language;
(2) the problems of identity: definition of self, world, and other;
(3) revolutions in literary form and theme;
(4) notions of exile, hybridity, migration, nation and cultural schizophrenia;
(5) race and imperialism, including Western views of the “Orient” and Africa;
(6) the treatment of gender and feminist revaluations of mainstream philosophical assumptions;
(7) the connections between “postcolonial” thought and Western postmodernism and Western literary/cultural theory.
Weekly Class Assignments:
UNIT ONE: DEFINING THE MODERN
Week 1: Sept 1: Introduction: Historical Background to Twentieth Century Literature: (1) Brief account of major transformations in C19, including rise of bourgeois hegemony and bourgeois Enlightenment ideals (rationality, civilisation, historical progress, the physical and intellectual conquest of nature), industrialisation, urbanisation, decline of religion, scientific advance, imperialism; (2) the challenging of bourgeois ideals by Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Marx, Freud, and movements in literature and criticism such as French symbolism and aestheticism which reacted against bourgeois realism; (3) brief account of First World War as a climax of Western imperialism, its resulting devastation, as well its engendering of economic and psychological depression. No reading for this class.
Sept 3: The Meaning of “Modern:” (1) Broadly speaking, the period beginning with the American and French Revolutions, displacing the centuries’ old feudal and absolutist hierarchies with a vision of life issuing from the newly hegemonic middle classes. In literary terms, “modern” could perhaps refer to the period starting with the twentieth century; to be distinguished from the term “modernism” which is often dated approximately from 1910-1930; (2) an overview of the various movements in literature over the twentieth century: modernism, symbolism, realism,
feminism, postmodernism, postcolonialism.
Reading: Abrams, Introduction, pp. 1897-1913.
Sept 6: Labor Day
UNIT TWO: RACE AND IMPERIALISM
WEEK 2: Sept 8: Introduction to Imperialism (as an extension of Enlightenment ideals).
Reading: Ruskin, “Imperial Duty;” Hobson, “The Political Significance of Imperialism” (Abrams, pp.2018-2023).
Sept 10: The Irish Question: “Easter 1916 Proclamation of an Irish Republic,” Abrams, pp. 2023-2024; W.B. Yeats, “Easter 1916,” Abrams, p. 2104.
WEEK 3: Sept 13: The British in India: Morris, “The Partition of India;” Nehru, “Tryst with Destiny,” Abrams, 2028-2035; Forster, A Passage to India, Ch. 2, Abrams, pp. 2133-2141.
Sept 15: Western Representations of the Other: Conrad, Heart of Darkness, Abrams, pp. 1957-2017.
Sept 17: Conrad, Heart of Darkness, Abrams, pp. 1957-2017.
WEEK 4: Sept 20: Conrad, Heart of Darkness, Abrams, pp. 1957-2017; Achebe, “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness,” Abrams, pp. 2035-2040.
Sept 22: Explorations of American Identity: Booker T. Washington, Up From Slavery, Baym, pp. 1622-1630.
Sept 24: Dubois, The Souls of Black Folk, Baym, pp.1703-1719.
UNIT THREE: MODERNISM AND ITS DISCONTENTS
WEEK 5: Sept 27: Ireland and the Problem of Culture: W.B. Yeats, poems.
Sept 29: Yeats, prose writings, Abrams, pp. 2124-2131.
Oct 1: Ireland and Culture: Joyce, “The Dead,” Abrams, pp. 2240-2268.
WEEK 6: Oct 4: American Expatriots: Ezra Pound, poems, Baym, pp. 1946-1953.
Oct 6: American Expatriots: T.S. Eliot, pp. 1973-2002.
Oct 8: Eliot.
WEEK 7: Oct 11: Other Voices of Modernism: Robert Frost, poems (in Baym).
Oct 13: Wallace Stevens, poems (in Baym).
Oct 15: Marianne Moore, poems (in Baym).
WEEK 8: Faulkner, “A Rose for Emily,” pp. 2160-2166.
Oct 20: Voices from the Harlem Renaissance: Zora Neale Hurston, “How it Feels to be Colored Me,” and “The Gilded Six-Bits,” Baym, pp. 2097-2108.
Oct 22: Langston Hughes, poems.
UNIT FOUR: FEMINISMS
WEEK 9: Oct 25: Feminism and Modernism: Virginia Woolf, “The Mark on the Wall;” “Modern Fiction,” Abrams, pp. 2143-2153.
Oct 27: Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own (selections), Abrams, p. 2153 ff.
Oct 29: Oct 18: Katherine Mansfield, “The Daughters of the Late Colonel,” Abrams, pp. 2409-2423.
WEEK 10: Edna St. Vincent Millay, poems, Baym, pp. 2109-2112.
Nov 3: Voices from other cultures: India: Anita Desai, “Scholar and Gypsy,” Abrams, pp. 2768-2785.
Nov 5: Ireland: Edna O’Brien, “Sister Imelda,” Abrams, pp. 2746-2759.
WEEK 11: Canada: Alice Munroe, “Walker Brothers Cowboy,” Abrams, pp. 2707-2717.
Nov 10: Theoretical Perspectives: Woolf, Spivak.
UNIT FIVE: POSTCOLONIALISM
Nov 12: Nov 1: West Indies: Jean Rhys, “Mannequin,” Abrams, pp.2438-2442.
WEEK 12: Nov 15: South Africa: Political Realism: Nadine Gordimer, “The Moment before the Gun Went Off,” Abrams, pp. 2573-2576.
Nov 17: South Africa: Colonial Oppression: J.M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians (extract), Abrams, pp. 2829-2834.
Nov 19: Nov 8: The Caribbean: Divided Heritages: Derek Walcott, poems, Abrams, pp. 2580-2587.
WEEK 13: Nov 22: The Caribbean: Identity Crises: V.S. Naipaul, “One out of Many,” Abrams, pp. 2722-2745.
Nov 24-28: Thanksgiving
WEEK 14: Nov 29: India: Magical Realism/Postmodernism: Salman Rushdie, “The Prophet’s Hair,” Abrams, pp. 2843-2852.
Dec 1: Postcolonialism: Theoretical Perspectives: Edward Said, Homi Bhabha.
UNIT SIX: POSTMODERNISM
Dec 3: Thomas Pynchon, “Entropy,” Baym, pp. 2522-2532.
WEEK 15: Dec 6: Samuel Beckett, Endgame, Abrams, pp. 2472-2500.
Dec 8: Tom Stoppard, The Real Inspector Hound, Abrams, pp. 2786-2815.
Dec 10: Stoppard.
Dec 13: Epilogue: How english is English? George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language,” Abrams, pp. 2462-2471.
Final Examination: Friday, December 17, 9:00-12:00.