English 289m. Who Cares about Modernism?: Literary Studies and the Problem of Periodization

Instructor: Beth Blum
Day & Time: Thursday 9:45-11:45am 
Course Website
This graduate seminar uses modernism as a test case for debates regarding the merits and limits of literary periodization. Though our focus is modernism, we will be engaging with examples of similar debates from other periods, such as challenges to the medieval/ Renaissance divide, calls for “presentist Shakespeare,” the manifesto of the Victorian v21 collective, and discussions regarding the utility of labelling contemporary literature as “post-45.” We will examine the contingencies and controversies of modernism’s fraught self-formation, reading detractors including Wyndham Lewis, Laura Riding, and Edith Wharton, as well as figureheads such as Woolf, Lawrence, and Joyce. 

Primary texts are designed to partly overlap with the generals list and may include: Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, Wharton’s The House of Mirth, and more. Secondary readings to include: Eric Hayot, Rita Felski, Paul Saint-Amour, Fredric Jameson, Kenneth Burke, Susan Stanford Friedman, René Wellek, Gerald Graff, Ted Underwood, David James and Urmila Seshagiri, Wai Chee Dimock.