The topic for Fall 2013’s Junior-Senior Honors Seminar is Modernist Masterpieces: Conrad, Joyce and Woolf.
Students enrolled in this honors seminar will read three astonishing modernist novels: Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1899), James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922), and Virginia Woolf’s The Waves (1931). Each of these fictions – Conrad’s meditation on human corruption in imperial Africa, Joyce’s epic daylong odyssey through Dublin, and Woolf’s multivoiced tale of the journey from childhood to adulthood – dared to enlarge the horizons of narrative possibility. This seminar will allow students to learn about experimental modernism’s artistic commitments, the lives and careers of the three principal authors, and the history of imperial Britain in the tumultuous first decades of the twentieth century. As we concentrate on reading the semester’s principal texts, we will also watch documentaries on the Belgian Congo and on Ireland; we will read excerpts from Homer’s Odyssey; we will listen to readings of the texts and read selections from the letters, diaries, and essays of Conrad, Woolf, and Joyce; and we will read other important modernist texts by T. S Eliot, Ezra Pound, Katherine Mansfield, and Samuel Beckett. Finally, we will consider the legacy of these pathbreaking novels in contemporary fiction by reading the work of modernism’s complex heir, the Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee: Waiting for the Barbarians and Elizabeth Costello. Students will be responsible for weekly responses, in-class presentations, and a final research paper.
Applications for English 398/498 are due by Friday, 4/19, and can be found on the Honors in English page.