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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Spring 2005

T C 357 • The European Avant-Garde—W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
41120 MW
2:00 PM-3:30 PM
UTC 3.120

Course Description

This course studies the different European artistic movements which occurred at the beginning of the Twentieth Century: French Impressionism, German Expressionism, Italian Futurism, Russian Futurism, Cubism, Dada, and Surrealism. These movements, deemed outrageous and revolutionary in their time, have shaped our current artistic perceptions, practices, and sensibilities. We will examine the historical, political, and cultural backgrounds which gave rise to these movements (World War I, Freud's discoveries, desire to break with realism, interest in non-western cultures, and colonialism), the aesthetic values which these movements put forth, and the kinds of innovations in literature, painting, music, and film which took place. In addition the course explores the ways in which different cultural and expressive domains intersect. For instance the Surrealists’ interest in Freud is manifested in A. Breton's Nadja, in S. Dali’s paintings, and in Buñuel and Dali’s film An Andalusian Dog. Cubism is present in Picasso’s paintings, but also Leger’s film Ballet Mécanique. Proust’s work displays impressionist features, but it also shares a polyphonic quality with Stravinski’s music composed at the same time. Colonialism, travel, and world fairs introduced Europe to other cultures and aesthetic practices that influenced several artists and musicians. The course combines lectures by the instructor, discussions of selected readings, presentations of slides, screenings of films, and listening to musical pieces.

About the Professor Dina Sherzer is a professor of French and Comparative Literature and the director of the France-UT Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies. She specializes in 20th-century French literature and film. She has taught this course before and found it a most exciting experience to have students discover the complexity and richness of the avant-garde.

Grading Policy

This course contains a substantial writing component. Home work: Assigned readings and screenings Class work: Class participation and oral presentation Final Grade: One 12-page final paper: 50% One 5-page preliminary essay: 5% Five one-page essays: 25% Class participation and oral presentation: 20%


Selections from: M. Bradbury et al, Modernism; A. Breton, Nadja; A. Jarry, Ubu King; J. Joyce's Dubliners; F. Kafka, The Trial; T. Mann, Death in Venice; M. Proust, Swann's Way; V. Woolf, To the Lighthouse; and J.Conrad, Heart of Darkness. Screenings: Avant-garde shorts by Ray, Clair, Dali and Buñuel, and Léger; films such as Murnau’s Nosferatu, Eisenstein’s The Battleship Potemkin, and Greville’s Princess Tam Tam.


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