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

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