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Fall 2021 Reading Group

Character and Self in the Modernist Novel

Prerequisites: None

Exam Type: No Exam

In self-consciously reacting against the 19th century Realist novel, the Modernist authors of the the 1920s and 1930s experimented with the form of the novel. In so doing, they introduced new concepts of time and narrative. But, in parallel with the revolutions taking place in biology and psychology, they also changed the concept of character. In the process, they called into question the inherited views of the stable self that had been more or less uncritically accepted beforehand. The repercussions of that reconceptualization are still felt today across most of the social sciences and humanities. We will read novels by six writers who contributed in important ways to this change: The first four will be Elizabeth Bowen, William Faulkner, Ford Madox Ford, and Jean Toomer. We will together select the last two novels during the second meeting of the reading group. Each student will be asked to give some introductory comments at one session to help begin the discussion of the novel assigned for that day.

Note: This group will meet for six Thursday evening sessions, dates TBD