1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

Modern & Contemporary Literature

  • 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.


  • ENMC 9500 Modern Poetry

    1530-1645 MW - CABELL 235

    Instructor: Jahan Ramazani

    A seminar on 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. Among requirements are active participation; co-leading of discussion; and two conference-length papers (8-10 pages). Our primary text will be Modern Poetry, volume 1 of The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry, third edition, supplemented by recent criticism.