- Course Number: ENGL 236
- Catalog Course Entry: ENGL 236
- Quarter: Fall 2022
The seminar proposes a materialist reading of modernism against the grain of its canonical Anglocentric narratives of both progress and crisis. These narratives often focus on the way twentieth century modernity produces a new type of subjectivity (male, white, straight), and a new type of consciousness as a response to the changes brought by Fordism and the massification of experience in the West. The picture is even more complex: modernism, as a multifaceted and multi-local aesthetic, appears at the time of revolutions, totalitarianism, and two world wars. This is also the time of high imperialism and, by the mid-century, of decoloniality, which put in place a new world geopolitical order. The crisis of the idea of progress, of established gendered subjectivities and of language, must be understood dialectically, as predicated both upon the historical-cultural changes taking place in the West but also elsewhere, in the colonial and postcolonial spaces. We will pursue this view of modernism from afar and from below together with more iconoclastic and oppositional forms of Western modernism that rethink materiality, experience, subjectivity in a critical and political mode.
Here are some of the issues we will pursue: art and capitalism; Fordism, exhaustion and waste economies; colonialism and decoloniality; cosmopolitanism; utopia and heterotopias; modernism and revolution; the spectacle and totality; the body and fragmentation. Readings may include texts by Walter Benjamin, Susan Buck-Morss, David Harvey, Fredric Jameson, Neil Lazarus, Françoise Vergès, Bruno Latour, Sanford Kwinter, Silvia Federici, Frantz Fanon, Paul Gilroy, Georges Bataille, Christina Kiaer, Jonathan Crary, Fred Moten and Stefano Harney.