ENGL433 - American Literature: 1914 to the Present, the Modern Period

This course explores diverse developments in U.S. fiction and poetry during the modern period (1900-1945)—and asks what their relationship is both to the contemporary developments in U.S. and world history and politics that motivated them. The modern period in U.S. literary history is well-known as an era of vast upheaval in the possibilities of artistic and cultural expression. Some of the most celebrated authors in U.S. literary history; some of the most diverse and ambitious and unjustly forgotten and dangerously polemical voices; some of the most cosmopolitan and insular, radical and reactionary, obscene and insipid, experimental and ordinary, forms of expression, exploded in hybrid and counterpointed contact with one another during this time. Yet the modern era was also a period of explosive political and historical change in the U.S. Enfolding both domestic and international dimensions, this period saw the dawn of the U.S. on the world stage as a military and imperial power; the agonizing complexities of its involvements in two world wars; the invention of the modern presidency, the nature of modern government, modern interpretations of the U.S. Constitution, and the meaning of the two major modern U.S. political parties; the advent of racial segregation and the nadir of race-relations and race violence in U.S. history; deep suspicion of foreigners and the first U.S. legislation restricting immigration; the transition of the U.S. from rural to urban social dominance; fantastic strides in the power of technology, mass media, and corporate capitalism; recurrent paranoias of labor, socialist, and Bolshevist unrest; crucial developments in the history of feminism and sexuality—and much more. This course examines the relationship between modern American literature and modern American history; at ultimate issue, moreover, is the question of *why* one should write or read "American" literature, especially in the increasingly global era that is our own. Authors include Pauline Hopkins, WEB DuBois, Willa Cather, Robert Frost, H.D., T.S. Eliot, Claude McKay, William Carlos Williams, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jovita González, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Katherine Anne Porter. Two papers and a final.


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