Modernity and Modernisms
Literary modernism is generally known by the form it took in European and American literature in the late 1800s and early 1900s: as a movement away from Romanticism and Realism toward the fragmented and the psychological. But just a glance at global forms of modernism in literature complicates this narrow view. While many national traditions characterize their literature of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as “modern,” few call it “modernist” because it does not share the specific historic and literary trajectory of Euro-American Modernism. Yet there are traits that are shared— for many national traditions, the development of modern literature was directly linked to use of the vernacular, rejection of tradition and universality, globalization, reaction to traumatic historical events and the fragmentation of culture, and development of nationalism or social critique.
The goal of C Lit 240 is to hone your individual writing skills while also giving you the opportunity to grow as a critical reader. To this end, the course will examine an international sampling of modern texts using the problematic terms “modernity” and “modernism” as points of comparison for texts and as starting points for composition. We will seek an understanding of what is meant by “modernism,” explore how its meaning is consistent or changes in various contexts and traditions, and probe the gap between “modernity” and “modernism.”
Virginia Woolf _To The Lighthouse_, Lu Xun “Diary of a Madman,” Alejo Carpentier _The Kingdom of this World_, and a selection of poetry, critical essays, and short fiction.