May 30, 2024  
Catalogue 2024-2025 
Catalogue 2024-2025
Add to Portfolio (opens a new window)

WFQS 357 - Studies in Twentieth-Century Literature

Semester Offered: Fall
1 unit(s)
(Same as
  In-depth study of literatures of the twentieth century, with primary focus on British and postcolonial (Irish, Indian, Pakistani, South African, Caribbean, Australian, Canadian, etc.) texts. Selections may focus on an author or group of authors, a genre (e.g., modern verse epic, drama, satiric novel, travelogue), or a topic (e.g., the economics of modernism, black Atlantic, Englishes and Englishness, themes of exile and migration).

Topic for 2024/25a: Virginia Woolf. (Same as ENGL 357 ) Virginia Woolf seems more like our contemporary than any other British modernist. A scathing and hilarious critic of patriarchy, her writing is free of the vexing chauvinism that dates the work of her male counterparts. She treats women’s quotidian experiences – their travails, but also their pleasures – as subjects of universal artistic concern. Her detailed explorations of the flux of consciousness and the intricate nature of memory continue to resonate in our confessional culture. But so to do her queer attempts to get beyond both the dreary offices of gender and the pondering of one’s own uniqueness. Against the grain of her reputation as a chronicler of the inner life, her writing focuses the mundane object-world in new and unfamiliar ways and probes the elusive nature of our social tie, our being- in-common. Like Freud, she tried in her late work to imagine what a civilized society might look like in an era of unprecedented barbarity, when appeals to collective existence were being marshaled under the banners of jingoism, imperialism, militarism, and fascism. Perhaps her most urgent lesson for us, however, is neither strictly “personal” nor “political”: Woolf made powerful pleas for our right to privacy and anonymity, for the freedom to think about nothing in particular and to do so without interruption in a room of one’s own. On the other hand, no one worked more assiduously to invent her own readership and to secure her afterlife as a literary celebrity: no reading of Woolf is quite separable from the life and the legend, the fallacy and the figment, of the author. In addition to reading her novels, we sample her short fiction, essays, memoirs, diaries, and letters. Heesok Chang.

Prerequisite(s): Open to Juniors and Seniors with two units of 200-level work in English, or by permission of the instructor.

One 2-hour period.

Course Format: CLS

Add to Portfolio (opens a new window)