This course takes up the concept of modernism as a historical development in the arts, which comprises various artistic practices, and as a critical concept, which has various definitions, one of which is Fredric Jameson’s description of modernism as “realism’s historical counterpart and its dialectical mirror-image.” This course will explore modernism’s experimental writing practices and key theoretical issues and will engage with major critical debates and questions surrounding modernism such as the realism/modernism controversy, the problem of historicity, the issue of formalism and mediation as well as the topics of feminism and sexual experiment, commodity culture, urbanism, and everyday life.


(subject to change)

Primary texts

Joyce, James. Ulysses

Woolf, Virginia. Jacob’s Room

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying

T. S. Eliot. “The Waste Land” in The Complete Poems and Plays

Loy, Mina. “Songs of Johannes” in Lost Lunar Baedeker (1996)

Hughes, Langston. The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes (Vintage Classics, 1991)

Toomer, Jean. Cane.

Critical Texts

1. Adorno et al. Aesthetics and Politics. With an Afterword by F. Jameson (Radical Thinkers)

2. Bad Modernisms. Eds. D. Mao and R. L. Walkowitz (Duke, 2006)

Additional philosophical and critical essays will be assigned.


Teacher: Irina Rasmussen