Spring 2021 Undergraduate English Courses

358:358 Early Twentieth Century Fiction

01  09281  GOLDSTONE  MTH 9:50-11:10 AM

What do James Joyce, Dashiell Hammett, Mulk Raj Anand, and Zora Neale Hurston have in common? All significant writers of English-language fiction, all active in the first half of the twentieth century, these writers lived through an epoch of global social upheaval—world wars, revolutions, mass migrations, the rise and decline of empire—and their work registers and responds to a world of crisis. Yet Joyce, the Irish experimentalist, writes nothing like  Hammett, the pioneer of hard-boiled detective fiction; Anand, the committed Indian leftist, adopts very different perspectives from Hurston, the supreme Harlem Renaissance novelist. This course is a study in what is and is not shared in the fiction of these four writers and others of their era. Students will learn to analyze the forms and themes of exemplary fictions of the early twentieth century and to understand the variety of these fictions as a result of social contestation and collaboration. Readings include case studies in literary modernism (Joyce, Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner), detective fiction (Dorothy Sayers, Hammett), Harlem Renaissance fiction (Jean Toomer, Hurston), and Indian writing in English (Anand, Narayan).

Students can expect a weekly average of 150 pp. of reading, often challenging, always worthwhile. A major aim of the course is to practice reading widely and well. Every class period will include lecture and small- and large-group discussion. The major writing assignments consist of two papers and a take-home final.