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Literature MFA Course Descriptions SP20

Pre-authorization is required for students not enrolled in the Literature Department's MFA Program in Creative Writing. Please submit any pre-authorization request through the Enrollment Authorization System.

Modern Art Movements and Aesthetics: Cross-Genre and Modernist Experiment
Instructor: Brandon Som

Speaking in an interview on the prose and verse form of his 1939 text Notebook of a Return to the Native Land, Aimé Césaire makes a counterintuitive claim. He states, “Even though I wanted to break with French literary traditions, I did not actually free myself from them until the moment I decided to turn my back on poetry. In fact, you could say that I became a poet by renouncing poetry.” How might this renunciation of the intended genre, of the single-genre, inform our own practice as we work across genres? In what ways are cross-genre experiments a renouncing of the single-genre approach as well as of the traditions that came before? In what ways are these experiments indicative of what modernism scholars refer to as modernism’s “crisis of representation”? Indeed, in what ways are those aesthetic practices imbricated with social, historical, and political concerns? Exploring these questions, this course will provide an introduction to modernist movements and aesthetics but, as a foundational course for MFA students and our cross-genre MFA program, we will focus on cross-genre experiment. Thus, we will read cross-genre texts within the context of modernist experiments across the Atlantic and within the Americas, and how those experiments responded to various modernizing ideals, processes, and failures between roughly 1900 and 1950. Conversations will focus on specific literary and artistic movements such as imagism, surrealism, Negritude, Harlem Renaissance, and documentary, as well as consider movements within broader cultural and historical contexts to understand labor, women’s, New Negro, anti-colonial, and transnational movements. Finally, we will incorporate contemporary texts to trace present-day lineages, writing practices, and conversations with modernism.

Instructor: Jaclyn Jemc

Please contact instructor for course description.