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ENG 670 Top Cul Amer Modernism
This course examines a variety of texts and issues within American modernist culture from 1910 to 1935. U.S. Modernism developed in dialogue with several phenomena of modernity: newly national forms of social and economic integration, instead of the ‘island communities' of an earlier era; new models of perspective and experience emerging from psychology, philosophy, and the European visual arts; changes in urban cultural institutions; mass immigration and the large-scale movement of African Americans northward in the Great Migration; a fruitful ambivalence towards a technologically and economically innovative mass culture; political transformations in the nature of citizenship and state governance; and new sexological and political discourses that were rapidly altering the social understanding of sex and gender. We will pursue an interdisciplinary study of this moment of cultural ferment, by looking at literary modernism’s relationship with visual culture, popular literature, and little magazines, as well as some of the more familiar literary texts of US Modernism. The course will also introduce students to some of the key features and scholarship of the new modernist studies that have developed over the past fifteen ten years, including the new approaches to the politics of modernism; the cultural economy of the modernist magazine and book; discourses of race in American modernism and its relation to the Harlem Renaissance; how transatlantic and cosmopolitan approaches have altered traditional understandings of modernist exile and expatriation; modernist ecocriticism; and how the category of the “middlebrow” was crucial in the long-term institutionalization of modernism.
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