This course participates in the ongoing reassessment of relations between aesthetic modernism and popular culture. The rise of "New Modernist studies" over the past twenty five years, with its expansive historical orientation and interest in modernism's original cultural contexts, has led to a serious re-examination of the nature and extent of modernism's relations with and responses to the popular. Questioning both new critical views of modernism as a mode of radical formal experimentation detached from and superior to the crass productions of popular culture and postmodern views of modernism as a mode of neurotic fear and disgust in response to the feminized and feminizing productions of popular culture, this course studies works of popular culture produced during the modernist moment of the early twentieth century that innovate upon the popular genre and media conventions they also employ. We will study examples of science fiction, light verse, silent film comedy, comic fiction, Jazz and popular music, detective fiction, newspaper comic strips, and radio drama.
Arts & Letters (A&L) courses create meaningful opportunities for students to engage actively in the modes of inquiry that define a discipline. Courses are broad in scope and demonstrably liberal in nature (that is, courses that promote open inquiry from a variety of perspectives). Though some courses may focus on specialized subjects or approaches, there will be a substantial course content locating that subject in the broader context of the major issues of the discipline. Qualifying courses will not focus on teaching basic skills but will require the application or engagement of those skills through analysis and interpretation.
Literature, 1789 to the present courses focus on literary work produced over more than two centuries -- from the period of British romanticism and the early republic of the United States up to now -- in order to foster familiarity with key works in British and American literary history. Literary history illustrates how literary works reflect, address, and resist the social and political environments in which they are produced as well as other works that have preceded them.
Media, Folklore, and/or Culture courses focus on print and non-print media to explore culture and its processes of creative expression.
English Minor courses offer students centuries of cultural experience and representation in poetry, prose, drama, film, TV, new media, and folk artifacts. The English minor can focus and extend the values of a liberal arts education, while also providing extensive training in writing, speaking, and critical thinking.