The principal goal of this course is to introduce you to "modern American literature" (1910–1945), the writing generated, roughly, between the beginning of this century and the end of the Second World War, and arguably one of the richest and most widely influential periods in American literary history. More specifically, the course sets itself the task of addressing some of the issues that are at the very center of American literature and culture at the time:
- How do writers engage the large political developments of their time, such as the question of civil rights, the life of minority groups in a majority culture, World War I, the labor movement in the 20s and 30s, the Great Depression, and the question of women's emancipation?
- What does it mean to be an "American modernist" writer (esp. for those writers—and there were many—who chose not to live in America)?
- What is the role of literature in a culture dominated, no longer by the humanities in the largest sense, but by economics, science, and technology?
- Who decides what and who counts as "American" and "literature," and how?