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C LIT 251 A: Introduction To Comparative Literature: Themes

Surrealism

Meeting Time: 
MW 12:30pm - 2:20pm
Location: 
CDH 139
SLN: 
11792
Instructor:
Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen

Syllabus Description:

 

C LIT 251: SURREALISM

  

M-W 12:30 – 2:20, MGH 271

Instructor: Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen

Padelford B-524

Office hours: Th 2:00 – 3:20 pm

Email: mbj@u.washington.edu

 

Description: Surrealism, which emerged in Paris in the early 1920s from the social upheaval of post-WWI Europe and more especially from Dadaism, is arguably the most influential avant-garde movement of the 20th century. It rejected social, moral and logical conventions and sought to revolutionize art, literature, politics and life in the name of freedom, desire and the unconscious. Surrealist art, which was viewed by the surrealists as a means of liberation beyond purely aesthetic considerations, is characterized by a diversity of forms of expression: writing, painting, drawing, photography, film, collage, found objects, sculpture, theater; and of practices: automatic writing, hypnosis, and somnambulic strolling in the streets of Paris. We will study all these forms of expression and examine the challenges surrealism poses to traditional notions of art, literature and politics.

 

Readings: André Breton, Manifestoes of Surrealism; Nadja; Communicating Vessels; Louis Aragon, Paris Peasant. All titles are available from UW Book Store.

The readings will also include essays and other materials provided on the course website: https://catalyst.uw.edu/workspace/mbj/18848 .

 

Assignments: One in-class midterm exam and one in-class final.

 

Schedule of meetings and readings:

 

M   Jan 4:     General introduction.

W   Jan 6:     History of surrealism – Dada.

                       Background reading: David Hopkins on the history of Dada and  

                       surrealism.

M   Jan 11:   History of surrealism – Dreams, hypnosis and everyday life.

                       Background reading: Sonu Shamdasani on spiritism and mediums.

W   Jan 13:   History of surrealism -- The surrealist group.

                       Background reading: Maurice Blanchot on surrealism.

M   Jan 18:   Martin Luther King Day. No class.

W   Jan 20:   History of surrealism – The politics of surrealism.

                       Readings: André Breton, 2nd Manifesto + Political Position of Surrealism

                      (Extracts), in Manifestoes of Surrealism.

M   Jan 25:   Collage and the object.

                       Background reading: Louis Aragon, “Challenge to painting” + Max Ernst

                       on collage.

W   Jan 27:   Collage and the object – Screening of René Clair’s Entr’acte.

M   Feb 1:     Guest lecture: Douglas Collins, “The found object”.

                       Reading: André Breton, “Surrealist situation of the object”, in Manifestoes

                       of Surrealism.

W   Feb 3:     Louis Aragon, Paris Peasant.

                       Background reading: Walter Benjamin on surrealism.

M   Feb 8:    Louis Aragon, Paris Peasant.

W   Feb 10:   Mid-term exam.

M   Feb 15:   Presidents Day. No class.

W   Feb 17:   André Breton, First Manifesto of Surrealism.

                       Background reading: Sigmund Freud, “The Uncanny” + Poems by André

                       Breton, Paul Eluard and Robert Desnos.

M   Feb 22:   André Breton, First Manifesto of Surrealism. – Screening of Antonin Artaud’s The Seashell and the Clergyman.

                       Background reading: Jean Goudal, “Surrealism and cinema”

W   Feb 24:   André Breton, Communicating Vessels.

M   Feb 29:   André Breton, Nadja.

W   Mar 2:   Documents: André Breton, Salvador Dalí and Georges Bataille.

                       Readings: Georges Bataille in Documents and on Dalí.

M   Mar 7:   Screening of Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel’s Un chien Andalou.

W   Mar 9:     Final exam.

 

Additional Details:

Surrealism, which emerged in Paris in the early 1920s from the social upheaval of post-WWI Europe and more especially from Dadaism, is arguably the most influential avant-garde movement of the 20th century.  It rejected social, moral and logical conventions and sought to revolutionize art, literature, politics  and life in the name of freedom, desire and the unconscious.  Surrealist art, which was viewed by the surrealists as a means of liberation beyond purely aesthetic considerations, is characterized by a diversity of forms of expression:  writing, painting, drawing, photography, film, collage, found objects, sculpture, theater;  and of practices:  automatic writing, hypnosis, and somnambulic strolling in the streets of Paris. We will study all these forms of expression and examine the challenges surrealism poses to traditional notions of art, literature and politics. 

Readings:  André Breton, Manifestoes of Surrealism;  Communicating Vessels;  Nadja;  Louis Aragon,  Paris Peasant.

Catalog Description: 
Reading and analyzing literature based upon rotating themes such as love, sex, and murder, haunted houses, and dreams and memory. Selections drawn from European, English, and American literature, not limited to period and genre.
Department Requirements Met: 
Pre-req to Declare Literature Major
GE Requirements Met: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Other Requirements Met: 
Status: 
Active
Last updated: 
April 28, 2016 - 9:20am
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