E 395M • Modernism and Its Discontents
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
This course will examine the relationships between a variety of authors writing during the time of "High Modernism" (roughly from 1913-1945). Beginning with the influential works of Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot, we will explore the cultural projects each poet attempted to articulate in his writings and examine how, in Eliot's words, these projects insinuate a "whole way of life" that involves all levels of society. Using these two paradigms of "Modernist culture," we will examine how other writers forge their own poetic projects in relation both to Pound and Eliot's ideas, as well as to their own unique cultural positions. In this way we can situate more accurately the cultural productions hoped for by William Carlos Williams, Wallace Stevens, Hilda Doolittle, Mina Loy, Gertrude Stein, Jean Toomer, W. E. B. DuBois, Langston Hughes, and the writers of the New Negro movement. By examining both the poetry and prose of these writers, along with the conditions of their works' publication, we will explore the kinds of interventions each was attempting to perform. By examining the relationships between the poetry and prose in each writer's work, we will also explore how they manipulate assumptions about language and culture. At stake also in this course, then, will be notions of how poetry participates in culture, as well as how race, class, region, and gender function within poetic, individual, and cultural production.
Hilda Doolittle, Helen In Egypt (New Directions: 1961; 0-8112-0544-4) T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land and other Poems (Faber Paperbacks: 1955; 0-15-694877-XHARV); Christianity and Culture (Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich: 1960; 0-15-617735-8HB32, Harv) Rudolph Fisher, The Conjure Man Dies: A Dark Tale from Old Harlem (University of Michigan Press, 0-472-06492-4) Langston Hughes, The Selected Poems of Langston Hughes (Vintage Classics: 1987; 0-679-72818-X) Alain Locke, ed., The New Negro (MacMillan: 1968; 0-689-70128-4, NL10) Mina Loy, The Lost Lunar Baedeker (Noonday Books: 1997; 0-374-52507-2) Ezra Pound, Selected Poems (New Directions: 1957; 0-8112-0162-7) Wallace Stevens, The Palm at the End of the Mind (Vintage: 1972; 0-394-71768-6); The Necessary Angel (Vintage: 1951; 394-70278-6) Jean Toomer, Cane (Norton Critical Edition: 1987; 0-393-95600-8) William Carlos Williams, Spring and All (xerox); Paterson (New Directions: 1994; 0-8112-1225-4 pbk)