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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Fall 2007

E 397M • Modernism and Imperialism: Woolf & the Bloomsbury Circle

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
36330 MW
2:00 PM-3:30 PM

Course Description

In this course we will be examining the works of Virginia and Leonard Woolf, and additional members of the Bloomsbury Circle. We will also be exploring some of the Hogarth Press's abundant non-literary, explicitly anti-imperialist works, for example, Edward Thompson's The Other Side of the Medal (1925--a critical history of the Indian Uprising); J. A Hobson's Notes on Law and Order (1926); Kathleen Innes's The League of Nations and the World's Workers (1927), Alice Ritchie's Occupied Territory (1930); and C. L. R. James's The Case for West-Indian Self Government (1933).

One of the guiding questions for the seminar is: what is the relationship between the age, energy, aesthetics and politics of empire and imperialism and the modernist era? How are these novelists, art historians, biographers, and essayists of the Bloomsbury Circle negotiating, revising, rejecting, or transforming their shared and respective Victorian-Edwardian ideological, cultural and intellectual heritages and legacies. We will be reading Bloomsbury travel narratives, novels, essays, biographies, and art histories/art criticism. Bloomsbury encounters with suffrage, Fabian and anti-imperialist politics and organizations will be a central concern, as will formalist and aesthetic engagements with modernist art movements and ideas (for example, post-impressionism, orientalism and primitivism).


Assigned Readings:

  • Virginia Woolf. The Voyage Out, The Waves, Three Guineas, and selected essays.
  • Leonard Woolf. The Village in the Jungle, Growing: An Autobiography of the Years 1904-1911.
  • William Plomer. Turbotte Wolfe.
  • Vita Sackville-West. Passenger to Teheran.
  • Mulk Raj Anand. Coolie and Conversations in Bloomsbury.
  • Winifred Holtby. Mandoa, Mandoa! A comedy of irrelevance.
Essays in Reader:
  • Roger Fry. Transformations: Critical and Speculative Essays on Art, Vision and Design (selections).
  • Leonard Woolf. Imperialism and Civilization (selections).
  • Jed Esty. A Shrinking Island: Modernism and National Culture in England.
  • Elazar Barkan and Ronald Bush, Eds. Prehistories of the Future: The Primitivist Project and the Culture of Modernism (selections).
  • Patricia Ondek Laurence. Lily Briscoe's Chinese Eyes: Bloomsbury, Modernism, and China (selections).
  • Melba Cuddy-Keane. Virginia Woolf: The Intellectual and the Public Sphere (selections).
  • John Marx. The Modernist Novel and the Decline of Empire (selections).


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