English 262b
R. Sheehan
MW  2:30 - 4

The American Moderns (1915-1950)

            This course explores the work of American modern writers by focusing on their relationship to place: the industrial landscape, New York City, the post-Reconstruction South, travel and exile, to name just a few. Considering American writing from within a number of historical and social contexts, we will explore how these writings reflect the climate of post-WWI America, the urban industrial experience, and changes in national, race and class identity. From the writings of Hart Crane, Frank O’Hara, Marianne Moore, Jean Toomer and other writers of the Harlem Renaissance, we will explore modernist receptions and generations of New York City. The work of Mina Loy, Elizabeth Bishop and Gertrude Stein will guide us through a glance at the influence of modernist European art movements like Dada and Cubo-Futurism on American poetry. Turning to the novel, we will look at the generation of a Southern gothic in Faulkner’s Absalom, Absolom!, and the disillusionment of post-WWI’s “Lost Generation” by considering Hemmingway’s The Sun Also Rises and Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise. Other works might include William Carlos Williams’ Paterson, Ezra Pound’s Cantos, Wallace Stevens’ Ideas of Order, and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man.