ENGL 380
The Art of Modern Crisis Fall 2009
Division I
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The first half of the twentieth century was marked by extraordinary social and political upheaval. The same era witnessed a feverishly creative revolution in the nature and the strategies of artistic representation. In this course we will examine what these two kinds of crisis have to do with one another: how a wide range of startling innovations in literary and cinematic art may be seen as responses to the particular pressures of the historical crises they represent. Focusing mainly on British and American instances, but also on works from France and Russia, we will study such diverse historical crises as the spread of anarchism around the turn of the century; the Bolshevik revolution; the woman’s suffrage movement and the emergence of the so-called “New Woman”; World Wars I and II; and the Cold War. Novels, plays, poems and films will be studied for their distinctive, often dazzling aesthetic strategies for representing these crises, and will include such works as Jarry’s Ubu roi, Bely’s Petersburg, Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, poems of Owen and Sassoon, Ford’s Parade’s End, Eisenstein’s Potemkin, Heller’s Catch-22, and Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 25
Expected: 15-20
Class#: 1708
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: active participation in class discussions, two papers, and a final exam; about 15 pages of writing
Prerequisites: a 100-level course
Enrollment Preferences: English majors
Distributions: Division I

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