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Literature 5B: Anglo-American Modernism



This course will give an overview of literature written in Great Britain, Ireland and the United States between ca. 1890 and 1940, the period of Modernism, noted for its international and transatlantic dynamics. Keywords of this period are “subjectivity”, “epistemology”, “relativism” and “-ism”. Next to a focus on the formal and experimental aspects of Modernist texts, this literature will be studied in a larger context (developments in the fields of science and the arts, social and political developments).
We will study canonical Modernist writers such as W.B. Yeats, James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, H.D., Virginia Woolf and William Faulkner, as well as the importance of the various avant-garde manifestoes and magazines.

Teaching method

Two hour seminar per week.

Course objectives

This course will extend and deepen the power of students’ literary critical analysis through in-depth consideration of texts. Students will explore critical debates central to the literature of the Modernist period. The course will also aim to extend the students’ skills in the reading of narrative and the understanding of the relationship of a text to its cultural/social context. Students will be encouraged to share analytical and critical views on the texts ascribed in class discussion, and will focus research skills in the writing of a final essay. This essay will be on a relevant subject of their own choice within the parameters of the course, and will further extend the students’ critical skills and their ability to produce good, clear writing. A final exam will test students’ knowledge of the literature of the period, and give them an opportunity to display their insight, their familiarity with the texts, and the range of their critical ideas.

Required reading

  • Lawrence Rainey, ed., Modernism: An Anthology (Blackwell, 2005).

  • James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Penguin.)

  • E.M Forster, A Passage to India (Penguin).

  • Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse (Penguin).

  • William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury .

  • Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier (Oxford World’s Classics).

  • Henry James, The Wings of the Dove (Penguin).

Test method

Final essay (50%); written test (50%).

Time table

Click here for the timetable


English Department, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 102c. Phone: 071 527 2144, or by mail:


Students can register through U-twist before 15 July. After 15 July students can only register through the Departmental Office.


There will be no Blackboard site available.