ENGL 365A/002: Modernist Literature (January 2025)

ENGL 365A/002: Modernist Literature

Term 2 | TTh 9:30-11:00am

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Haunted Landscapes of Gothic Modernism

“in the middle of my party, here’s death, she thought” – Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

Modernism was born out of seismic, revolutionary shifts in society and culture. World wars, political revolutions in Europe and beyond, murderous civil and colonial/imperial wars, economic depression, and successive waves of technological modernization offering mixed psychological and social benefits and injuries laid siege to assumptions that the world was in any way well-ordered or reliably understood. Its literature both reflects conscious innovation and experiment and sometimes opposes these passions for change. Its obsessions respond in complex ways to those seismic shifts in its representations of gender and sexuality, social structures, race and culture, in all cases often in terms of transgression.

And yet, in its drive to make things new, Modernist literature is often a haunted place: spectres of ancestry, of war, of places escaped from collide with the present moment, creating a dark, Gothic modernity. This troubled place will be our focus as winter turns to spring.

Core texts tentatively include Henry James, The Turn of the Screw (to be read as a Modernism precursor), Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison; D.H. Lawrence, Women in Love; Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway; James Joyce, “The Dead”; and Katherine Mansfield, “Prelude” and “At the Bay”; plus perhaps one more work of short fiction.

Evaluation will tentatively be based on a midterm essay, a term paper requiring secondary academic research, a final reflection essay, and participation in discussion.

Please keep checking this post for more information about the course, its texts, and its requirements. Please email me (Gisele.Baxter@ubc.ca) if you have any questions.

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