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ENGL 544: British Modernism (Fall 2016)


Course Information

Schedule Number 21315
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, 10–11:00am
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 world in flux, and how they sought to use literature to actively intervene in it. Our course will have two focuses. First, we will investigate the bold new techniques that modernists developed for representing multiple perspectives, plural conceptions of the self, and an expanded sense of community, looking at 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 testing the relevance of these techniques in our own increasingly pluralist world. Second, we will investigate modernist publication practices — self-publication, little magazines, large commercial presses, mass-circulation periodicals — in order to better understand the mechanisms by which modernists sought to disseminate their bold new ideas and techniques to a reading public and bring them to life in the public sphere.

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
  • Critique the modernist belief that literature could change politics by changing the way that people think
  • Analyze the publication channels that modernists exploited (and created) to disseminate their word
  • Perform research in online and/or print archives of modernist literature
  • Explore the relevance of modernist techniques for contemporary social issues and contemporary artistic forms
  • Improve your skills of literary analysis

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)
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. Edited by Norman Page. (Broadview Press)
  • Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. Annotated and with an introduction by Bonnie Kime Scott (Harcourt)
  • Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh (Back Bay Books)
  • Voyage in the Dark by Jean Rhys (W. W. Norton)

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-class contributions during lecture and group presentations, and (b) your contributions to the course discussion board on Blackboard. You are expected to make one post per week (approximately 250 words) and to reply to 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. 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.

Presentation (20%)

  • In the first part of the semester, each student will make a presentation related to modernist publishing, either alone or in a group of 2. Your grade will be determined equally by (a) your in-class presentation and (b) a 1000-word essay outlining and expanding upon your most interesting findings. The essay — which each student must submit on their own; this isn’t a group production — is due two weeks after the group presentation (i.e., when it’s due depends on when you make your presentation).

Advertisement and Manifesto for Magazine (15%)

  • In the second part of the semester, each student will either join a group in making a modernist magazine or make an independently-produced zine. Before submitting the final magazine or zine, each group/individual will create an advertisement and write a manifesto for their publication.

Final Project: Modernist Magazine or Zine (30%)

  • At the end of the term, you will submit your group-produced magazine or independently-produced zine.

Final Exam (15%)

  • The final exam will consist of three sections: identification of passages, discussion of key literary terms, and a short essay.

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 Texts Assignment
August 29 Introduction: moDernIYsm
August 31 Stevenson, the Lighthouse Engineer of Human Souls

  • Robert Louis Stevenson, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde 
  • kw: “Personality, Impersonality” (on Blackboard)
September 5 No Class (Labor Day)
September 7
  • Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
September 12 Strange Case of Type: An Introduction to Modernist Print Culture
September 14 Wilde: The Politics of Indirectness

  • Oscar Wilde, Picture of Dorian Gray
September 19
  • Picture of Dorian Gray
September 21
September 26 Conrad and the Politics of Reading Against the Grain

  • Joseph Conrad, “The Secret Sharer” (BABL 64-84)
September 28 Presentation #2

October 3 Modernism and the Archive: a (Special) Visit to Love Library’s Special Collections at the Love Library with Anna Culbertson. This class session meets in LA 4410.
October 5 “Modernism Happened in the Magazines”

  • Blast 1 (1914), “Manifesto—I.”
  • kw: “Avant Garde” and “Manifesto” (on Blackboard)
October 10 Presentation #3: Famous Modernist Poets Before They Were Famous Modernist Poets: Pound and Eliot in Blast 2

  • Ezra Pound, “Dogmatic Statement on the Game and Play of Chess: Theme for a Series of Pictures,” “The Social Order,” “Ancient Music,” “Gnomic Verses,” “Our Contemporaries,” “Our Respectful Homages to M. Laurent Tailhade,” “Ancient Wisdom, rather cosmic,” “Et Faim Sallir le Loup des Boys” (pp. 19-22; Don’t worry, they’re all really short)
  • T. S. Eliot, “Preludes,” “Rhapsody of a Windy Night” (pp. 48-51)
 October 12 Presentation #4: Poetry (the first magazine advertised in Blast 1)

October 17 Presentation #5: The Egoist (the second magazine advertised in Blast 1)

October 19 Poetry of World War I (BABL 101–113)

  • Rupert Brooke, “The Soldier”
  • Siegfried Sassoon, “They,” “Glory of Women”
  • Isaac Rosenberg, “Break of Day in the Trenches”
  • Wilfred Owen, “Arms and the Boy,” “Strange Meeting”
October 24 Presentation #6: Publishing War Poets
October 26 Symbols, Sex, and Sameness

  • Katherine Mansfield, “Bliss” (in BABL 425)
October 31 Presentation #7: Katherine Mansfield and Magazines

November 2 Presentation #8: Virginia Woolf, the Hogarth Press, and the Origin of the “DIY Ethic”

  • Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown (on Blackboard)
  • Three Guineas (selections, on Blackboard)
November 7 Virginia Woolf, Modeling Radical Empathy

  • Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
  • kw: “Common Mind, Group Thinking” (on Blackboard)
November 9
  • Mrs. Dalloway
  • kw: “Woman, New Woman” (on Blackboard)
November 14
  • Mrs. Dalloway
November 16 Jean Rhys and the Voice of the Other

  • Jean Rhys, Voyage in the Dark
  • kw: “Empire, Imperialism” (on Blackboard)
November 21 How to Make Zines and Magazines: A(nother) Visit to Special Collections.

This class session meets in LA 4410.

November 23 No Class
November 28
  • Voyage in the Dark
  • kw: “Race” (on Blackboard)
Advertisements for Magazines/Zines Due
November 30 Evelyn Waugh: What Was the Point of Modernism?

  • Evelyn Waugh, A Handful of Dust
December 5
  • A Handful of Dust
December 7
  • A Handful of Dust
Manifestos Due and to be Presented in Class 
December 12 Yeats: Modernism and Mysticism

  • “The Second Coming” (BABL 155) and “Leda and the Swan” (BABL 158)
  • For context, Kate Beaton’s “Leda and Zeus-Swan”

Auden: Queer Modernism

  • W. H. Auden, “At Last the Secret is Out,” “Lullaby,” “As I Walked Out One Evening” (BABL 573–)
  • kw: “Queer, Gay” (on Blackboard)
December 14 Stevie Smith: F&@# Modernism!

  • Stevie Smith, “Not Waving but Drowning,” “The New Age,” “Pretty” (BABL 527–)
 Magazines/Zines Due
December 21 Final exam (1-3pm)

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.