Sunday, February 3, 2008

Prompt for First Day on Eliot’s Poetry…

Prompt for First Day on Eliot’s Poetry…

As you are reading Eliot’s early poetry, here are some things to think about:

1) You may want to know something about Eliot’s Life. The Kermode Intro can help with this. A good on-line biography is this one by Ronald Bush:

2) What are the main themes/ideas in these poems? What attitudes, images, plots, and characters do they have in common?

3) How do these poems represent a Modernist break with the past?

4) How do the poems relate to what we have read of the prose so far?(See Torrens’ essay on BB for help on this)

5) What is the chronology of their composition vs the way they arranged in the book? What does this arrangement say about themes? (See my chronology for info on this:

6) Although we are going to focus on Prufrock, I’d like each of you to pick another poem to be kind of an expert on. Be prepared to talk in special detail about your poem, and if possible bring it into your blog for the week.

7) For reading Prufrock, be sure to check out all the helpful on-line annotations etc. If you click on the title of the poem on the web syllabus, it will take you to a very detailed, in-progress annotation I’ve been accumulating through various classes. My Eliot links page also has several helpful links to annotated and illustrated versions of the poem.

7) This Modern American Poetry Site has a lot of good info on Eliot, including analyses of various poems:

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Gender: It’s Not Just For Women Anymore – A Post-Class Post on Modernism and Pre-Class Post on Forster

Once class was over, after my rather nerve-wracking slog through the gathering slush (hope you all got home okay), I realized that the minnow I had been chasing around the fishbowl of my brain was the idea of moderism vs. modernity. I realize that in all our talking around it, we had not really settled on a definition of Modernism, but that’s partially because currently criticism tends much more towards an exploration of modernity… Wikipedia has a nice—if overly long and sometimes not relevant to us – entry on modernism/modernity. The Message Grid is still live, so as the semester proceeds, let’s think about beginning to add our definitions of modernism to the grid. You might also want to think about a visual definition of modernism and/or modernity as the first page of your visual journal.

On Reading Howard’s End—Things to look for:

  • Repeated themes, IMAGES, MOTIFS, phrases etc. What would you index/paper clip?
    What is its main point? What is its moral message?
  • How does this novel relate to modernism/modernity? Note places where it refers to the encroachment of modernity. How does it exhibit the beginning of a modern sensibility/ morality?
  • Where does Forster fit on the political spectrum we have begun to establish for British Modernsim? Is he heroic or domestic? Who would he vote for in the primaries and WHY? Try not to get too partisan ;)
  • What about the form/structure of the novel? Does it have a modernist structure in terms of plot and/or point of view? What about the characters? What works and doesn’t work in the form of this novel/

OUTSIDE READING: I really do recommend that everyone read the Intro to Queer Forster by Martin and Piggford for its useful outline of the history of attitudes towards EMF. For those pursuing the space/place thread in Modernism, the Thacker chapter on Forster is also on Blackboard. The Norton has a nice historical survey as well. In the Liberalism section, Trilling’s essay is a classic, perhaps the classic take on Forster’s politics. Stone’s essay provides good biographical background. Levenson is the editor of the Cambridge Companion to Modernism, the Intro to which so many of you enjoyed reading last week. Among the contemporary responses, the review by Virginia Woolf is particularly interesting (note the Ibsen reference). In the Criticism section, I find the last two, by Langland and Jameson, most helpful.

Remember I am going to be asking you to startcommitting yourself to a report topic. For suggestions, see the page on Figures and Institutions for Projects at:
Last year and the year before, students did reports on the following topics (in no particular order). You are neither limited to not firbidden to choose any of these. (* means I now have a Powerpoint on this and so we don’t need a report)

Leonard Woolf
The Russian Ballet
Ottoline Morrell
Katherine Mansfield *
Rose Macauly
H. D.
F. H Bradley & T.S. Eliot
Suffrage & Modernism
Vanessa Bell
Edith Sitwell
Modernism & Cinema
Roger Fry
Maynard Keynes
The Hogarth Press
Bertrand Russell
The Omega Workshop
Anti-Semitism & Bloomsbury
Duncan Grant

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Blog Directory for Modernist London

Spring 2008

Monday, January 14, 2008

Prompt for Blog 1--Definitions of Modernism

Okay, so what are you supposed to write your first blog on? Well, Modernism. You need to read the selections on Blackboard (see explanations of reading below) and maybe also check out some of the links on the 2007 web syllabus and/or do some googling or other research of your own. Here are the basic issues I want to discuss in class:
Definition of Modernism—try to write a basic definition of modernism. Or, if making it up is too intimidating, pick quotes from your sources that help you dfine it
Main Themes and Concerns – this is another part of the definition: What ar the main themes and concerns of Modernsim?
Historical Contexts –When did Modernism start and end? Where did it happen? What were the historical events, movements etc. that impacted it? What is cultural background that leads up to British Modernism?
Who’s Who? Who are the major modernists in the various arts?
Aesthetic/Formal Characteristics – what makes Modern art modern? What characterizes Modernist poetry, novel, philosophy, music, painting, sculpture? Are there any elements held in common?
Politics – Do you have a sense of the political orientations of Modernism and various modernists? Who would vote for Hllary, who for Mitt? Who’s left, who’s right?
Most Interesting Thing(s) You Learned from the Readings
• If you want to know some basic background for Modernism, you might find the Spears essay useful—it is old and a bit out of date, represent the old school definition of Modernism
• The two Intros by Bonnie Scott will lay out the newer and newest concerns of Modernist scholars. The Table of Contents for her 2007 volume will give you quite a thorough sense of the range of gender concerns.
• Everyone needs to read Chris Reed’s chapter—that really sets up the politics of the whole course
• As for the space/place readings—skim those to get a sense of the list of concerns: what particular issues do they bring up?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Videos and Books on Tape related to Modernist London

Videos and Books on Tape
(Personal Copies Owned by Dr. Sparks)


Cassette tapes of Eliot reading his own poetry:
 Early Work (everything up to 4Q but not all of Possum)
 Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats
 The Four Quartets
• Video: Tom and Viv (Movie about TSE’s first marriage, starring Willem Dafoe…interesting)
• Video: Voices and Visions on TS Eliot (CUL) DVD available from EKS

Woolf and Bloomsbury
Cassette tapes of Woolf works (Unabridged unless otherwise indicated)
 A Room of One’s Own
 Three Guineas
 Moments of Being
 Orlando (abridged on tape; unabridged on CD)
 To the Lighthouse (Abridged on CD)
• Cassette tape of Nigel Nicolson’s new (sloppy) biography of Woolf
• Cassette tape of Mitz the Marmoset of Bloomsbury (unabridged)
• Cassette tape of The Hours by Michael Cunnigham (unabridged) (Pulitzer-prize winning book based on Mrs. Dalloway; made into a major motion picture) DVD available.

• Video: The Hours. Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman) writes Mrs. Dalloway while a suburban housewife (Juliana Moore) reads it, and a contemporary woman (Meryl Streep) lives it. Lovely movie but factually inaccurate about Woolf and especially her sister Vanessa. EKS has DVD
• Video: The War Within (Excellent documentary on Woolf’s life) DVD or video available from EKS
• Video: To the Lighthouse (Movie is pretty bad, but you get to see Kenneth Branaugh before he was a star)EKS has video
• Video: Mrs. Dalloway (Charming and fairly faithful version of the novel starring Vanessa Redgrave as Clarissa)
• Video and DVD of Eileen Atkins performing an abridged version of Room of One’s Own (Masterpiece Theater) available from EKS
• Video: Orlando. Sally Potter’s fabulous (in every sense of the word) rendition of Woolf’s comic novel successfully captures its luxuriant and chaotic surface. Tilda Swinton is impressive as the ambi-sexual hero/ine. (EKS has DVD)
• DVD documentary on Charleston including interview with Duncan Grant, available from EKS.
• Video: Carrington Movie about Lytton Strachey’s longtime companion, Dora Carrington a painter. Good evocation of general atmosphere of Bloomsbury. Some scenes shot at Garsington)

E.M. Forster
(Merchant and Ivory in particular have done lovingly faithful adaptations of many Forster novels)
• Video: Where Angels Fear to Tread (book 1905; film 1991) Amazing cast (Helene Bonham-Carter, Rupert Graves, Judy Davis, Helen Mirren) and gorgeous Italian scenery make this film about an English women who escapes oppressive England to a more liberated life in Italy fairly interesting. (EKS has video)
• Video: A Room with a View, (book 1908; film 1986) Gorgeous Merchant-Ivory production with Helen B-H again, accompanied by Maggie Smith, Judy Dench, Deholm Eliot, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Julian Sands. One of the best movie adaptations ever. 2-disk DVD has useful ancillary material including an hour-long BBC documentary on EMF. (EKS has DVD)
• Video: Howard’s End, (book 1910; film 1992) Another fabulous Merchant Ivory production. This time Helena B-H is joined by Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. Read the book first, but then thoroughly enjoy this visual feast. Second disk has (I think) same BBC documentary on EMF as Room wi a View. (EKS has DVD)
• Video: A Passage to India, (book 1924; film 1984) David Lean (Lawrence of Arabia) directs the first adaptation of a Forster novel with Judy Davis, Dame Peggy Ashcroft, and Alec Guiness pretending to be Indian. Gorgeous film and fairly true to book. (EKS has video)
• Video: Maurice , (book 1971; film 1987). Merchnat/Ivory also filmed this version of Forster’s posthumously published novel about homosexual love between classes, starring a young Hugh Grant among many others.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Course Description

Rooted in comparing and contrasting major works of T.S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf, the seminar explores the modernist milieu in London from about 1910 to 1939, looking at the competing cliques of Bloomsbury (Leonard and Virginia Woolf, Lytton Strachey, Clive and Vanessa Bell, Roger Fry, Morgan Forster) and Hampstead (Katherine Mansfield, John Middleton Murray, D.H. Lawrence) as well as their attackers and defenders (such as Ottoline Morrell and Wydham Lewis). Aside from central works by Woolf and Eliot ("Prufrock" The Waste Land, To the Lighthouse , etc.) study of other writers and artists will be based on student selection. Students will write weekly responses, do a class project on a figure or institution, keep a visual journal, and write a 12-15 page seminar paper