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ENGL 544: British Modernism (Fall 2015)


Course Information

Schedule Number 21282
Class Days: Mondays and Wednesdays
Class Times: 3:30–4:45pm
Class Location: Hardy Tower 022

Instructor: Dr. Adam Hammond
Office Hours Times (and by appointment): Mondays and Wednesdays, 12:00–1:00pm
Office Hours Location: Arts and Letters 213
Email: ahammond@mail.sdsu.edu

Course Overview

The modernist period (roughly 1880–1950) was among the most vibrant and inventive in British literature. A time of rapid and radical change, it saw the development of new communications technologies like the radio and cinema, the massive upheavals of two world wars, the decline of the British Empire, and paradigm-crushing developments in psychology (Freudian psychoanalysis), philosophy (the unsettling of absolute truths), and science (Einstein’s relativity and Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle.) In this course, we will explore how British writers responded to this word in flux, and how they sought to use literature to actively intervene in it. Our focus will be on the bold new techniques that modernists developed for representing multiple perspectives, plural conceptions of the self, and an expanded sense of community. We will investigate how modernists used formal devices like stream-of-consciousness, unreliable narration, and multiple points of view to prompt their readers to re-think notions of selfhood, ethics, and politics — and we will test the relevance of these techniques in our own increasingly pluralist world.

In this course you will:

  • Gain a comprehensive and multi-faceted understanding of British modernist literature and culture
  • Investigate the material and historical conditions that modernist writers responded to
  • Learn how modernist writers believed literature could change politics by changing the way that people think
  • Explore the relevance of modernist techniques for contemporary social issues
  • Improve your literary analysis and writing skills
  • Employ the “keywords” approach to cultural history

Course Materials

The following required texts are available from the SDSU Bookstore:

  • The Broadview Anthology of British Literature: The Early Twentieth Century. Volume 6A. Edited by Joseph Black et al. (Broadview Press)
  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. Edited by Martin A. Danahay. 3rd edition. (Broadview Press)
  • Howards End by E. M. Forster (Barnes and Noble Classics)
  • The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford. Edited by Kenneth Womack & William Baker (Broadview Press)
  • Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. Annotated and with an introduction by Bonnie Kime Scott (Harcourt)
  • Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh (Back Bay Books)
  • Voyage in the Dark by Jean Rhys (W. W. Norton)

The following required text is available on Blackboard:

  • Modernism: Keywords by Melba Cuddy-Keane, Adam Hammond, and Alexandra Peat (Wiley-Blackwell)

Other texts are linked from the syllabus and/or available on Blackboard.

Course Structure and Conduct

This is a lecture-discussion course. Participation and attendance are very important in this course. Participation in online discussions is also very important.

We will discuss sensitive subjects in this course. I expect all students to respect all other students during these discussions. In accordance with California state law, discrimination based on the following categories will not be tolerated: race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, age, genetic information, marital status, sexual orientation and identity, AIDS/HIV, medical condition, political activities or affiliations, military or veteran status, or status as a victim of domestic violence, assault, or stalking.

Course Assessment and Grading

Your final grade will be based on the following:

Participation (20%)

  • This grade is determined equally by (a) your in-person contributions during lecture as well as by (b) your contributions to the course discussion board on Blackboard. You are expected to make one post per week (approximately 250 words) and to comment on one other student’s posts. Your posts can be on any topic related to that week’s course material: something you liked, something you hated, something interesting that you noticed, etc. You are encouraged to relate each week’s text(s) to the assigned Keywords. Posts and comments should demonstrate that you’ve engaged thoughtfully with the assigned materials. Posts and comments must be submitted by 11:59pm Sunday; no late submissions are accepted.

Blog Posts or Creative Responses (25%)

  • Twice throughout the term, you will produce either (a) a blog post about an issue or text raised in the readings or (b) a creative response to one of the texts on the syllabus. Each is worth 12.5% of your final grade.

Final Paper (25%)

  • On November 23rd, you will submit a 2,000-word critical essay. Creative options are possible; please see me for approval.

Final Exam (30%)

Late policy

All late assignments will be reduced 3% per day, including weekends. Assignments will not be accepted more than one week after the due date. Online discussion and commentary is not accepted past the weekly deadline of Sunday at 11:59pm.

Attendance and Participation

Each student is permitted to miss up to three weeks of online discussion and commentary. Every week beyond this will reduce your overall participation grade by 10% (e.g., missing four weeks [3 + 1] of online discussion will reduce your participation grade by 10%; missing five weeks [3 + 2] will reduce your participation grade by 20%).

Attendance in lecture is necessary. If you anticipate missing more than three class sessions, please drop this course. If you are a campus athlete, please provide a complete list of classes you will miss by September 14th.

Students with Disabilities

If you are a student with a disability and believe you will need accommodations for this class, it is your responsibility to contact Student Disability Services at (619) 594-6473. To avoid any delay in the receipt of your accommodations, you should contact Student Disability Services as soon as possible. Please note that accommodations are not retroactive, and that accommodations based upon disability cannot be provided until you have presented your instructor with an accommodation letter from Student Disability Services. Your cooperation is appreciated.

Academic Honesty

The University adheres to a strict policy regarding cheating and plagiarism. These activities will not be tolerated in this class. Become familiar with the policy (http://www.sa.sdsu.edu/srr/conduct1.html). Any cheating or plagiarism will result in failing this class and a disciplinary review by Student Affairs.

Examples of Plagiarism include but are not limited to:

  • Using sources verbatim or paraphrasing without giving proper attribution (this can include phrases, sentences, paragraphs and/or pages of work)
  • Copying and pasting work from an online or offline source directly and calling it your own
  • Using information you find from an online or offline source without giving the author credit
  • Replacing words or phrases from another source and inserting your own words or phrases
  • Submitting a piece of work you did for one class to another class

If you have questions on what is plagiarism, please consult the policy (http://www.sa.sdsu.edu/srr/conduct1.html) and this helpful guide from the Library: (http://infodome.sdsu.edu/infolit/exploratorium/Standard_5/plagiarism.pdf)

Course Schedule

Date Activity Keyword Assignment
August 24 Introduction
August 26 Robert Louis Stevenson, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Personality, Impersonality; Unconscious
August 31 Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde Readers, Reading
September 2 E. M. Forster, Howards End, chapters 1–12 Bigness, Smallness
September 7 No class (Labor Day)
September 9 Howards End, chapters 13–25 Common Man
September 14 Howards End, chapter 26 to end Conventional, Conventionality
September 16 Joseph Conrad, “The Secret Sharer” (BABL 64-84) Reality, Realism
September 21 “The Secret Sharer” Best Seller
September 23 Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier, Part I Impression, Impressionism First blog post or creative response due
September 28 The Good Soldier, Parts II and III International
September 30 The Good Soldier, Part IV Sentimental, Sentimentality
October 5 Blast, “Long Live the Vortex!,” “Manifesto—I,” “Manifesto—2,” The Enemy of the Stars Manifesto;

Avant Garde

October 7 Poetry of World War I (BABL 101–113)

  • Siegfried Sassoon, “They,” “Glory of Women,” “Everyone Sang.”
  • Rupert Brooke, “Clouds,” “The Dead,” “The Soldier”
  • Isaac Rosenberg, “Break of Day in the Trenches,” “Dead Man’s Dump,” “Louise Hunting,” “Returning, We Hear the Larks”
  • Wilfred Owen, “Arms and the Boy,” “Dulce et Decorum Est,” “Anthem for Doomed Youth,” “Strange Meeting,” “Futility”
Shock, Shell Shock
October 12 T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land (BABL 450-461) Difficulty, Obscurity
October 14 The Waste Land God, Gods
October 19 James Joyce, “Eveline,” “Araby” (BABL 317-322) Words, Language
October 21 Katherine Mansfield, “Bliss,” “The Garden Party” (BABL 425–439) Rhythm Second blog post or creative response due
October 26 Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway Common Mind, Group Thinking
October 28 Mrs Dalloway Woman, New Woman
November 2 Mrs Dalloway Highbrow, Middlebrow, Lowbrow
November 4 Evelyn Waugh, Vile Bodies Group, Coterie
November 9 Vile Bodies
November 11 No class (Veterans Day)
November 16 Vile Bodies Atom, Atomic
November 18 Jean Rhys, Voyage in the Dark Empire, Imperialism
November 23 Voyage in the Dark Race Final paper due
November 25 No class (Thanksgiving)
November 30 W. B. Yeats, “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” “Easter 1916,” “An Irish Airman Foresees His Death,” “The Second Coming,” “Mediations in Time of Civil War,” “Leda and the Swan” (BABL 146–) Form, Formalism
December 2 W. H. Auden, “Spain 1937,” “In Memory of W. B. Yeats,” “September 1, 1939”; additional readings on Blackboard (BABL 573–) Propaganda
December 7 W. H. Auden, “At last the secret is out,” “Funeral Blues,” “Lullaby,” “As I walked out one evening” (BABL 573–) Queer, Gay
December 9 Stevie Smith, “Mother, Among the Dustbins,” “The River God,” “Not Waving but Drowning,” “The New Age,” “Away, Melancholy,” “The Blue From Heaven,” “Pretty” (BABL 527–)
December 16 Final Exam, 3:30-5:30pm, Hardy Tower 022

Additional Notes

This syllabus is subject to change.

Your remaining in this class constitutes acceptance of the conditions outlined in this syllabus.

Please be aware that we will discuss sensitive issues in the course, related to topics such as race, gender, sexual orientation, and politics.