Fachbereich 7

Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft


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American Modernism: Contexts and Concepts


DozentIn: Jatin Wagle, M.A.

Veranstaltungstyp: Seminar

Ort: 41/215

Zeiten: Mo. 14:00 - 16:00 (wöchentlich)

Beschreibung: This is a master’s course in American Studies which seeks to examine the multifarious contexts and conceptual underpinnings of early twentieth century literary modernism. Viewed as a complex and ambivalent response to technological and cosmopolitan modernity as well as the politics of race that defined the American experience during this period, American modernism resists straightforward characterization. In this seminar, we will consider three of its salient definitions, namely, modernism as a literary response to a specific period within American history, as an intense preoccupation with the literary form, and as a transatlantic intellectual project. After taking up theoretical and analytical texts in this regard, we will turn to both poetic and fictional works for close reading and intensive analysis. Our selection of literary texts will focus on the interwar period and attempt to place works considered to be modernist classics in dialogue with those identified with the Harlem Renaissance. Thus, while reading poetry, we will first take up T. S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” (1919) and William Carlos Williams’ “The crowd at the ball game” (1923) and then move to Langston Hughes’ “The Weary Blues” (1925). While reading narrative fiction, we will begin with Jean Toomer’s _Cane_ (1923) and then move to Ernest Hemingway’s _The Sun Also Rises_ (1926), William Faulkner’s _The Sound and the Fury_ (1929), and close with Nella Larsen’s _Passing_ (1929).
In order to take and enjoy this class, you should be willing to read, analyze, and discuss theoretical and analytical texts, as well as poetry and narrative fiction. Please read the following novels in preparation for the seminar, since we will analyze and discuss them in detail during our course:
Jean Toomer’s _Cane_ (1923) [Norton Critical edition, 2011, ISBN: 978-0393931686]
Ernest Hemingway, _The Sun Also Rises_ (1926) [Vintage Classics, 2000, ISBN: 978-0099285038]
William Faulkner, _The Sound and the Fury_ (1929) [Norton Critical edition, ISBN: 978-0393912692 (2014 reprint) or ISBN: 978-0393964813]
Nella Larsen, _Passing_ (1929) [Norton Critical, 2008, ISBN: 978-0393979169; alternatively, the scanned version of the original Alfred A. Knopf edition (1929) available online, albeit without the critical material: https://archive.org/details/passing00lars ]
The required readings with a tentative schedule will be made available online on Stud.IP before our first class. Please check the course webpages on Stud.IP regularly for updates, announcements, and changes.
General requirements:
1. Regular attendance and active participation in classroom discussions and group work.
2. Please note that all course participants will need to read each of the texts being discussed in the class carefully and prepare their notes or answers diligently in terms of the relevant questions.
Requirements for grade: All of the above, and a seminar paper (approx. 6000 words).


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