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EN348 Twentieth Century Avant-Gardes: Culture, Politics, Contestation

Convenor: Prof. Michael Gardiner

This is a Pathway Approved Option for the World and Comparative Literature Pathway and one of the Distributional Requirements for the English Pathway. Can also be selected as an option under the remaining Pathways


This module looks at various contestatory texts mostly from the 1910s to the 1950s, and tries to put them into historical context.

Term One

Week 1.Introduction

Weeks 2-3. Manifestos: Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto (etext available online); from Modernism: An Anthology of Sources and Documents: Wyndham Lewis, “Vorticism”; Ezra Pound, "A Retrospect"; Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, “The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism” and “The Variety Theatre”; Mina Loy, “Feminist Manifesto”; Guillaume Apollinaire, “The Cubist Painters”; Tristan Tzara, "Dada Manifesto," "Note on Art" and "Note on Negro Art"; Kurt Schwitters, Merz, "Consistent Poetry" and "To All the Theatres of the World"; George Grosz, "Art is in Danger"; “Manifesto issued by the Syndicate of Technical Workers, Painters, and Sculptors”; André Breton, “The First Manifesto of Surrealism”; Antonio Gramsci, “Marinetti the Revolutionary,” “Theatre and Cinema”; Leon Trotsky, “Literature and Revolution”; and Luis Bunuel, “Suburbs.” Recommended Reading: M. Perloff, "Violence and Precision: The Manifesto as Art Form."

Week 4. James Joyce, Dubliners. Recommended Reading: D. Lloyd, "Counterparts: Dubliners, Masculinity, and Temperance Nationalism."

Week 5. Gertrude Stein, "Miss Furr and Miss Skeen," "Composition as Explanation," "Susie Asado" and "Preciosilla, " “Tender Buttons” “What are Master-pieces and Why Are There So Few of Them.”

Week 7. Hugh MacDiarmid, A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle. Recommended Reading: Scott Lyall, Hugh MacDiarmid's Poetry and Politics of Place.

Week 8. Bertolt Brecht, The Caucasian Chalk Circle and excerpts from Brecht on Theatre: 13. 'The Modern Theatre is the Epic Theatre'; 15. 'The Film, the Novel and Epic Theatre'; 20. 'Theatre for Pleasure or Theatre for Instruction'; 21. 'The German Drama: pre-Hitler'; 24. 'Alienation Effects in Chinese Acting'; 26. 'On Gestic Music'; 27. 'The Popular and the Realistic'; 29. 'The Street Scene'; 31. 'Short Description of a New Technique of Acting which Produces an Alienation Effect'; 38. 'A Short Organum for the Theatre'. Recommended Reading: Frederic Jameson, from Brecht and Method; Darko Suvin, 'Brecht's Caucasian Chalk Circle and Marxist Figuralism'.

Week 9: Sergei Eisenstein, dir., Battleship Potemkin; Dziga Vertov, Man with a Camera; Eisenstein, Film Form: Essays in Film Theory (whole book except last essay, 'Dickens, Griffith, and the Film Today' - i.e.: 'Through Theatre to Cinema'; 'The Unexpected'; 'The Cinematographical Principle and the Ideogram'; 'A Dialectic Approach to Film Form'; 'The Filmic Fourth Dimension'; 'Methods of Montage'; 'A Course in Treatment'; 'Film Language'; 'Film Form: New Problems'; 'The Structure of the Film'; 'Achievement').

Week 10: Aimé Césaire, Notebook of a Return to My Native Land. Recommended Reading: André Breton, 'A Great Black Poet': Aimé Césaire', from Breton, What is Surrealism?

Term 2:

Week 1. Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God. Recommended Reading: Rosemary V. Hathaway, "The Unbearable Weight of Authenticity: Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God and a Theory of "Touristic Reading." Journal of American Folklore 117 (464): 168-190.

Week 2. Ezra Pound, "Murder by Capital" (selections, on hand-out) and "ABC of Economics" (scanned extract); from New Selected Poems: 1) early lyrics: "Erat Hora," "Tenzone," "In a Station of the Metro," "Alba," "Fan-Piece, for Her Imperial Lord," "The Lake Isle." Cantos: XIII, XIV, XVI, XXXVIII, XLV, XLIX. Recommended reading: Tim Redman, "Pound's Politics and Economics," in The Cambridge Companion to Ezra Pound (available as e-resource through library website)

Week 3. Pablo Neruda, from Selected Poems: "Tonight I Can Write," "Weak With The Dawn," "Ars Poetica," "Lone Gentleman," "Barcarole," "Walking Around," "There's No Forgetting," "I'm Explaining A Few Things," "Discoverers of Chile," "Ode To The Tomato," "Ode To The Clothes," "And How Long?," "Too Many Names," "The Portrait In The Rock," "Fiesta's End," "The People," "Poetry"

Week 4. Mishima Yukio, Forbidden Colours

Week 5. Marguerite Duras (screenplay) and Alain Resnais (director), Hiroshima Mon Amour; screenplay to be read for seminar); Alain Resnais, dir. Night and Fog

Week 7. Kobo Abe, Woman of the Dunes; Hiroshi Teshigahara, dir. "Woman of the Dunes"

Week 8. Situationism - essays from ed. Tom McDonough, Guy Debord and the Situationist International: Debord, 'Report on the Construction of Situations...' (1957); Debord, 'One More Try If You Want To Be Situationists' (1957); Debord, 'Contribution to the Debate "Is Surrealism Dead Or Alive" (1958); Debord, 'The Situationsist and the New Forms of Action in Politics and Art"; Rene Vienet, 'The Situationists and the New Forms of Action Against Politics and Art'; Tom McDonough, 'Situationist Space'

Week 9. Abdelwahab Meddeb, Talismano

Week 10. Roberto Bolaño, The Savage Detectives

Recommended Reading: Emilio Sauri, "A La Pinche Modernidad: Literary Form and the End of History in Roberto Bolaño's Los detectives salvajes."

Secondary Reading held by the library is here

Set Texts (2014-15)

Ed. Vassiliki Kolocotroni, et al. Modernism: An Anthology of Sources and Documents (Edinburgh UP, 1998)
James Joyce, Dubliners (Penguin Modern Classics, 2000)
Gertude Stein, Selected Writings of Gertrude Stein, (Vintage, 1990)
Ezra Pound, New Selected Poems and Translations, Richard Sieburth, editor (New Directions, 2010)
Hugh MacDiarmid, A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle (Polygon, 2008)
Kobo Abe, Woman in the Dunes (Penguin, 2006)
Bertolt Brecht, The Caucasian Chalk Circle (Penguin Modern Classics, 2007)
Abdelwahab Meddeb, Talismano (Dalkey Archive, 2011)
Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (Virago Press, 2008)
Roberto Bolaño, The Savage Detectives (Picador Press, 2009 or 2012)
Aimé Césaire, Notebook of a Return to My Native Land (Bloodaxe, 1995)
Mishima Yukio, Forbidden Colours (Penguin Modern Classics, 2008)
Marguerite Duras (Richard Seaver, trans), Hiroshima Mon Amour (Grove Press, 1961).
Pablo Neruda, Selected Poems (Andrew Kerrigan,ed and trans) (Penguin Books, 1992).

Secondary reading

Click here for a list of secondary reading

Sample Essay Questions