ENGL 544: British Modernism (Spring 2016)

Course Information

Schedule Number 21216
Class Days: Mondays and Wednesdays
Class Times: 2:00–3:15pm
Class Location: AH 2103

Instructor: Dr. Adam Hammond
Office Hours Times (and by appointment): Mondays and Wednesdays, 11:00am–noon
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 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 and contemporary artistic forms
  • Improve your skills of literary analysis
  • Learn how to write excellent research papers

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)
  • 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 during the Peer Review session, 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 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. 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.

Introduction to a Hypothetical Essay Comparing a Modernist Poem to a Contemporary Song (5%)

  • A low-risk exercise in writing clear thesis statements and compelling introductory paragraphs, and in building bridges between contemporary and modernist forms

Short Essay or Creative Intervention (25%)

  • A short critical essay of approx. 1000 words; or, a short Creative Intervention accompanied by a critical essay of approx. 500 words explaining why the intervention is needed

Outline and Annotated Bibliography for Final Project (20%)

  • Approximately one month before your Final Project is due, you will submit a detailed outline accompanied by an annotated bibliography

Final Project (30%)

  • A research essay of approx. 2000 words; or, a Creative Intervention, accompanied by a research essay of approx. 1000 words explaining why the intervention is needed

Extra Credit Assignment: Digging Stuff Up in the Archives (up to +5%)

  • You have the option of submitting a short paper exploring materials you’ve discovered in online archives of modernism or in the SDSU Library’s Special Collections.

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%).

Failure to participate in the Peer Review session on April 20th will reduce your participation grade by 25%.

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 Skill Assignment
January 20 Introduction: Modernism in Reverse
January 25 Anti-Modernist Modernism

  • Stevie Smith, “Not Waving but Drowning,” “The New Age,” “Pretty” (BABL 527)
  • kw: “Difficulty, Obscurity” (on Blackboard)
January 27 The Formal Politics of Mourning

  • W. H. Auden, “Funeral Blues” (BABL 575)
  • kw: “Queer” (on Blackboard)
Thesis Statements
February 1 Auden and Queerness; Poetry and Pop

  • W. H. Auden, “At Last the Secret is Out,” “As I Walked Out One Evening” (BABL 575–)
  • Bob Dylan, “As I Went Out One Morning” (Lyrics on Blackboard; the Genius annotations aren’t great but let’s get in the habit of checking there)
February 3 Poetry and Revolution

  • W. B. Yeats, “Easter 1916,” “The Second Coming” (BABL 148, 155)
  • Kendrick Lamar, “Alright” (Lyrics on Blackboard and annotations on Genius)
  • W. B. Yeats, “Leda and the Swan” (BABL 158)
  • Kate Beaton, “Leda and Zeus-Swan”
Close reading
February 8 Poetry and Death (…and Revolution)

  • W. H. Auden, “Spain 1937,” “In Memory of W. B. Yeats,”  (BABL 576, 580)
  • Jay Z, “Miss You (Remix)” (Lyrics on Blackboard and annotations on Genius)
February 10 Waugh and the Aftermath of Modernism

  • Evelyn Waugh, A Handful of Dust
February 15
  • A Handful of Dust
February 17
  • A Handful of Dust
  • Jonathan Greenberg, “Was Anyone Hurt?: The Ends of Satire in A Handful of Dust” (on Blackboard)
February 22 Modernism and the Other

  • Jean Rhys, Voyage in the Dark
  • kw: “Empire, Imperialism” (on Blackboard)
February 24
  • Voyage in the Dark
MLA Formatting Hypothetical Introduction Due (5%)
February 29 A Literary Machine for Generating Empathy

  • Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway
March 2
  • Mrs Dalloway
  • kw: “Woman, New Woman” (on Blackboard)
March 7
  • Mrs Dalloway
  • Karen DeMeester, “Trauma and Recovery in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway” (on Blackboard)
Integrating Secondary Sources
March 9 Symbols, Sex, and Sameness (Modernist Magazines I)

 Archival Research 
March 14 Eliot Before “Eliot” (Modernist Magazines II)

March 16 Poetry of World War I

  • Rupert Brooke, “The Soldier” (BABL 105)
  • Isaac Rosenberg, “Dead Man’s Dump” (BABL 108)
  • Wilfred Owen, “Anthem for Doomed Youth,” “Strange Meeting” (BABL 112, 113)
March 21 Modernist Form as Anti-Propaganda Training

  • Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier
  • kw: “Propaganda” (on Blackboard)
March 23
  • The Good Soldier
  • Ford, “The Saddest Story” (first draft of The Good Soldier in Blast 1, 1914)
Annotated Bibliographies  Short Essay or Creative Intervention Due (25%)  
—Spring Break Roughly Symbolizes the Outbreak of World War I—
April 4
  • The Good Soldier
  • Karen A. Hoffman, “‘Am I no better than a eunuch?’ Narrating Masculinity and Empire in Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier” (on Blackboard)
Extra Credit Assignment Due 
April 6 What Modernism Looked Like Before the War (Modernist Magazines II)

  • Blast 1 (1914), “Manifesto—I.”
  • kw: “Avant Garde” (on Blackboard)
April 11 The Modernist Novel Before “Modernism”

  • E. M. Forster, Howards End, chapters 1–12
April 13
  • Howards End, chapters 13–25
  • kw: “Readers, Reading” (on Blackboard)
Final Project Outline & Annotated Bibliography Due (20%)
April 18
  • Howards End, chapter 26 to end
  • John Mullen, “Sincerest Form,” The Guardian (newspaper article about relationship between Howards End and Zadie Smith’s On Beauty)
Peer Review and Revision 
April 20 Conrad and the Politics of Complication

  • Joseph Conrad, “The Secret Sharer” (BABL 64-84)
April 25
  • “The Secret Sharer”
April 27  Peer Review Final Project First Draft Due 
May 2 Stevenson as Proto-Modernist: The Multiplicity of the Self

  • Robert Louis Stevenson, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde 
  • kw: “Personality, Impersonality” (on Blackboard)
May 4
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde
Final Project Final Draft Due (30%)

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.