ENGL379N - Special Topics in Literature: The Birth of Modern America

While it is customary to link literary modernism to the aftermath of WW1, processes of modernization actually culminated decades earlier, especially in the United States, leading Gertrude Stein to quip that America “now is the oldest country in the world” because it was the first modern one. This course explores “the shock of the new” through the lens of fictions by Bellamy, Crane, Dreiser, Norris, Dunbar, London, Johnson and others authors who depict the anxieties of modern urban life around the turn of the twentieth century. These readings will be supplemented by analysis of other cultural forms, such as early cinema, advertising, department stores, mass media (including war propaganda), experimental works of art, and scientific principles of factory management.Two papers, a final exam, and a presentation (either group or individual).

Repeatable to 9 credits if content differs.


Two lower-level English courses, at least one in literature; or permission of ARHU-English department.