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Module

SEL3378 : Landscapes of American Modernism

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Fionnghuala Sweeney
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semesters
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0

Aims

•       To introduce students to US modernism
•       To examine a range of American literary responses to the period 1910-1945
•       To interrogate the ways in which modernism is understood as a set of aesthetic principles based on literary experiment and a rejection of inherited forms
•       To consider the ways in which modernist expression and our reading of texts is politicised by a range of factors, including questions of, race, class, historical identity, myth and gender
•       To consider the specifics of regional forms of literary modernism in the US
•       To develop analytical skills by combining close reading with knowledge of historical contexts, theoretical debates and wider scholarship

Outline Of Syllabus

What is modernity? Where does it happen? Who experiences it and what are the aesthetics of its expression? This module explores a range of American literary responses to what it meant to be ‘modern’ in the early 20th century. We will be looking at American modernist writers’ attitudes to contemporary politics, to history, Europe and the regional landscapes of the United States. There will be a dual emphasis on form and theme in this module, which aims to develop a vocabulary for critical analysis of both in the works studied. We will therefore consider the ways in which the asymmetries of modernity are expressed through focused reading of writers including Larsen, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Cather, Hurston and Steinbeck. We will explore the ‘newness’ of much of the work that emerged in the period, its interest in experimentation, its narrative concerns, its expression of the uneven experiences of American modernity. We will also consider the ways in which these writers engage with debates around region, conflict, migration, labour and race.

Texts will include (i.e. all these texts will be taught this year):

F Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night
Nella Larsen, Quicksand and Passing
William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury
Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
Willa Cather, The Professor's House
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

Teaching Methods

Module leaders are revising this content in light of the Covid 19 restrictions.
Revised and approved detail information will be available by 17 August.

Assessment Methods

Module leaders are revising this content in light of the Covid 19 restrictions.
Revised and approved detail information will be available by 17 August.

Reading Lists

Timetable