1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

Modern and Contemporary Literature

 

  • ENMC 3110 British Literature of the 20th Century

    1000-1050 MWF - DELL 2, 100

    Instructor: Chris Forster

    This course will survey major twentieth-century novels of Great Britain and its colonies. Our goal will be to trace how writers changed and used the novel as a form throughout the twentieth century. Likely novelists include Joseph Conrad, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, Iris Murdoch, and Zadie Smith. Coursework includes short responses to each novel, two longer essays, and a final exam.

  • ENMC 3320 Modern Poetry

    1400-1515 MW - CABELL 119

    Instructor: Jahan Ramazani

    A survey of modern American, English, and Irish poetry, from Yeats to Auden. “Make it new,” wrote Ezra Pound, and we will explore the various ways in which modern poets reinvented poetry in English. How did poets respond to the dislocations, disruptions, and skepticisms brought by modernization in the first half of the twentieth century, to industrialized warfare, global empire, changes in gender relations, and transnational mobility? Why did they make poetry more difficult and allusive? How did they reconceive the relation between the imagination and the world? Why and to what effect did they bring different vernaculars, or dialects, into poetry? Addressing these general questions, we will also attempt to define the signature style and literary contribution of selected poets, asking how they remake inherited genres, forms, and vocabularies. We will explore the influence of the avant-garde visual arts on the poetry of Gertrude Stein, Marianne Moore, and others. We will compare different strands of modern poetry, such as the high modernism of Eliot and Pound, Stein’s experimental modernism, the late Romantic modernism of Yeats and Wallace Stevens; international modernism and the regionalism of Williams, Frost, and the Georgians; Yeats’s symbolism and the Imagism of Pound and H.D. We will explore the second-generation modernism of the Harlem Renaissance poets McKay, Toomer, Brown, and Hughes, and of poets of the Auden circle. Teaching strategies will include lectures, discussion interludes, cooperative learning, close readings, and audio presentations. Requirements will include two papers (6-7 pages long), quizzes, and a final exam. Our text will be Modern Poetry, volume 1 of The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry, third edition.

  • ENMC 3500 War Stories and Ethical Choices

    1400-1515 MW - CABELL 345
    cross-listed with RUTR 3500

    Instructor: Victor Luftig and Karen Ryan

    Men and women who serve in the military do so for a variety of reasons.  Military training – academic, physical, psychological – prepares these individuals for warfare in many respects.  But how do the liberal arts, as articulated in American education, relate to the ideals that motivate men and women to serve?  And how does literature’s presentation of war – as experience, idea, and ethical choice – relate to the realities that men and women experience while in the military?  Writers who treat the interface between idealism and the experience of war often were or are themselves in the military; many of these works are highly personal, sometimes autobiographical.  Some writers pose the question with more distance, as observers or witnesses or simply as artists.  In this course we will read a wide variety of literary works – poems, stories, novels, plays, memoirs, essays, etc. – that treat war and its effects, towards understanding the challenges and possibilities experienced by highly educated members of the armed services.  Readings will include Crane, The Red Badge of Courage and O’Brien, The Things They Carried; Voinovich, The Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin, and other works by Russian writers such as Babel and Simonov (read in translation); prose by Chris Hedges and Michael Walzer, and selections from Powder, Writing by Women in the Ranks; and poems by Wilfrid Owen and Brian Turner.  Restricted to instructor permission, with enrollment priority granted to (but enrollment not limited to) ROTC students. (Also listed as RUTR 3500.)

  • ENMC 3500 - Modern Jewish Fiction and the Historical Imagination

    1100-1215 TR - CABELL 123

    Instructor: Caroline Rody

    Jewish culture is unthinkable without the strong sense of the past that has shaped this people's self-understanding, that inheres in its sacred texts and religious practices, and that flourishes, too, in the many varieties of secular, modern cultural forms produced by Jews. A particularly rich, imaginative strain of historical consciousness can be found in twentieth and twenty-first century historical fiction by Jews in Europe, the Americas, and Israel. In this course we will closely read novels and short stories that reinvent episodes in Jewish history, recent and ancient, in the effort to work out a relationship between modernity (or post-modernity) and an ancestral past, to imagine the lives of Jewish women and men in compelling times and places, and to come to grips with the historical traumas the people endured. Several authors take up the difficult project of re-encountering and reframing the history of the Holocaust, and to do so, concoct startlingly fantastic, anti-realist, darkly comic literary visions. Others reimagine Jewish life in Eastern Europe, in early twentieth-century immigrant America, or in pre-State Israel, or retrace the paths of the Jews around the wide world, over centuries of their migrations.

    Writers will include many of the following: Isaac Bashevis Singer, Mary Antin, Grace Paley, Alfred Kazin, Elie Wiesel, Philip Roth, Cynthia Ozick, Art Spiegelman, Jonathan Safran Foer, David Grossman, A. B. Yehoshua, Linda Grant, Anita Diamant, Dara Horn, David Liss, and Rebecca Goldstein. Secondary texts will include critical and theoretical essays on Jewish literature, culture, and historicism. Requirements will include several one-page responses to the reading, a short and a long paper, group leading of class discussion, and a final exam. Requirements will include several one-page responses to the reading, a short and a long paper, group leading of class discussion, and a final exam.

  • ENMC 3500 Modernism and Anti-Modernism

    1230-1345 TR - CABELL 430
    cross-listed with ENAM 3500

    Instructor: Austin Graham

    The very name of the Modernist movement suggests its concern with the new, the current, and the up-to-date.  So too did Modernism in the United States draw much of its dynamic energy from its pathbreaking national moment, one of American jazz, skyscrapers, movies, airplanes, immigration waves, and economic booms.  But the modern cannot exist but in opposition to the old, and so in this course we will study formally experimental works whose freshness grows out of a deep sense of the past.  How does the modern engage with the anti-modern, and to what end?  In addition to literature, we will discuss historiographical methods, nostalgia, primitivism, folk culture, memory and the subconscious, Old Europe and expatriation, and legacies of slavery and the Civil War.  Authors might include DuBois, Fitzgerald, Eliot, O'Neill, Toomer, Hemingway, Cather, Roth, Faulkner, Hurston, and Dos Passos.  Requirements will include papers, an exam, and in-class discussion.

  • ENMC 4500 Absurdism

    0930-1045 TR - CABELL B028

    Instructor: Lotta Löfgren

    This course takes at its central focus Absurdist theater of the mid-twentieth century. We will read works by Beckett, Ionesco, Genet, Albee, Pinter, and Stoppard. We will also explore the antecedents to Absurdism and movements in painting such as Expressionism, Cubism, and Dada. We will investigate the complex and multi-faceted influence of Absurdism on subsequent theater: feminist playwrights and contemporary playwrights such as Caryl Churchill, Martin McDonagh, Suzan-Lori Parks, and Sarah Ruhl. We will also ponder the effect of Absurdism on contemporary popular culture, in television and film. In addition, we will read some pivotal theoretical texts, among these Breton’s “Manifesto of Surrealism,” Artaud’s The Theatre and Its Double, Brecht’s “A Short Organum for the Theatre,” and Esslin’s The Theatre of the Absurd.

    Requirements: class attendance and participation, four brief written responses to the readings, the leading of a class discussion, a  fifteen-page research paper, a final exam.

  • ENMC 4500 Contemporary Poetry

    1530-1645 TR - CABELL B028

    Instructor: Mark Edmundson

    We’ll be reading some of the better known Anglo-American poets writing from about 1950 to the present.  Approach:  merry, furrow-browed, inquisitive, expansive, skeptical, respectful but not reverent: seeking pleasure and instruction.  Is this stuff any good?  Will any of it last?  Possible poets: Allen Ginsberg, Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, James Dickey, James Merrill, Adrienne Rich, Sharon Olds, John Ashbery, Frederick Seidel.  We’ll probably end with full volumes from some (relative) youngsters:  maybe Matthew Dickman’s “All American Poem”; maybe Elizabeth Hadaway’s, “Fire Baton.”

  • ENMC 4530 Seminar in Modern Studies

    1530-1645 MW - CABELL 130

    Instructor: Stephen Arata

     

  • ENMC 4530 London Now

    1230-1345 TR - CABELL 245

    Instructor: Mrinalini Chakravorty

    This course explores the symbolic and material shifts that accompany London’s transformation from iconic imperial metropolis to what Paul Gilroy has called “postcolonial city.” Our study of contemporary British and Anglophone fiction will focus on contested associations of London as a city of high culture, high streets, greens, grandeur, proper English, and colonial power, but as also a hetero-cultural space that has since the times of empire been fractured by the presence of migrant arts, ethnic enclaves, race riots, housing estates, poverty, “rude” English, and anti-colonial dissent.  We will pay particular attention to the emergence of London in the present moment as a global city, as an urban location that uniquely frames the potential pleasures and perverse fears that arise as transnational identities collide with and remake national ones.  Our examination will evaluate the representational lenses through which London is paradoxically cast as an utopian model for cosmopolitan affections, efficiency, and late-modern urbanity, as well as the dystopic end-game of multicultural quarrels, urban crime, and neo-colonial exploitation.  Our goal ultimately will be to think about the ties between literature and place, and the kinds of literary innovations that alter our perceptions of how cities are inhabited.  Authors we might read are: Selvon, Ishiguro, Smith, Ali, Kureishi, Phillips, Lessing, Dabydeen, Emecheta, Johnson.

  • ENMC 5559 Modern Jewish Fiction and the Historical Imagination

    1400-1515 TR - CABELL 430

    Instructor: Caroline Rody

    Jewish culture is unthinkable without the strong sense of the past that has shaped this people's self-understanding, that inheres in its sacred texts and religious practices, and that flourishes, too, in the many varieties of secular, modern cultural forms produced by Jews. A particularly rich, imaginative strain of historical consciousness can be found in twentieth and twenty-first century historical fiction by Jews in Europe, the Americas, and Israel. In this course we will closely read novels and short stories that reinvent episodes in Jewish history, recent and ancient, in the effort to work out a relationship between modernity (or post-modernity) and an ancestral past, to imagine the lives of Jewish women and men in compelling times and places, and to come to grips with the historical traumas the people endured. Several authors take up the difficult project of re-encountering and reframing the history of the Holocaust, and to do so, concoct startlingly fantastic, anti-realist, darkly comic literary visions. Others reimagine Jewish life in Eastern Europe, in early twentieth-century immigrant America, or in pre-State Israel, or retrace the paths of the Jews around the wide world, over centuries of their migrations.

    Writers will include many of the following: Isaac Bashevis Singer, Mary Antin, Grace Paley, Alfred Kazin, Elie Wiesel, Philip Roth, Cynthia Ozick, Art Spiegelman, Jonathan Safran Foer, David Grossman, A. B. Yehoshua, Linda Grant, Anita Diamant, Dara Horn, David Liss, and Rebecca Goldstein. Secondary texts will include critical and theoretical essays on Jewish literature, culture, and historicism. Requirements will include several one-page responses to the reading, a short and a long paper, group leading of class discussion, and a final exam. Requirements will include several one-page responses to the reading, a short and a long paper, and the leading, in pairs, of one class discussion.