ENGL 383: History of Literature III, Twentieth Century Literatures
Discussion Section 12: McLeod 2008, M/W 3:30-4:30
Mr. Omaar Hena



Course Description & Objectives:

Welcome to discussion section for ENGL 383. As you are soon to see (if you have not already), the literature of the twentieth century is a literature of crisis and resistance to various forms of political, social, economic, and aesthetic tyranny and hegemony. The legacy of colonialism; the persistence and pervasiveness of sexual, racial, and economic exploitation and domination (set in place in the 19th century through the Industrial Revolution and slavery); the violence of two world wars; the break-up of the Empire in the decolonized world through (often) armed-force and the struggle to forge new national identities; and the onslaught of economic and cultural globalization (especially the world-wide spread of the English language) with all of its attendant dangers and possibilities for ‘local’ cultures and traditions: these are among the central traumas that shook to the core the lives and literature of the twentieth century. Modern literature (from c. 1895-1945) and the literature after modernism (1945-present) has had to ask the impossible: how both to represent truthfully the fragmentation and violence of the modern world and, at the same time, how to dream the world anew, how to make it all over again. This discussion section seeks to examine and explore, through close, careful textual examination and lively discussion how literature and language respond to the various political, cultural, and social upheavals of the previous century. What can literature teach us about how to handle and adequately represent times of unprecedented crisis and change? How can literature resist the totalizing and dominating machineries of capitalism, imperialism, and various other forms of cultural and political fragmentation and segregation? What alternative forms of knowledge and existence does literature and art hold out to us in the face of unspeakable catastrophe and irrecoverable loss? And, perhaps the most important question, why are literature and art important (indeed central and irreplaceable) for our understanding of the twentieth century?


Course requirements:

Papers: 40% Total

 Paper 1: 7-8 pages, (due Wednesday 9/28 in section)

 Paper 2: 7-8 pages, (due Wednesday11/16 in section)

 I will hand out some guidelines for writing successful papers on the study of literature. I will neither 

 offer extensions nor accept late papers, except for in the most urgent, dire, and grave of circumstance. 

 (Catastrophic cataclysms such as death, disease, warfare, innate lunacy and congenital criminality, 

 hurricanes, ice-storms, tornados, and other sublime, infinitely multitudinous, yet tantalizing acts of 

 god which (according to Joyce at least) make terror the basis of human mentality – but not power

 outages and computer meltdowns of any and all varieties. Save your work!)

In-class exercises and quizzes: 10%

 From time to time, I will assign short in-class responses to the readings and

 discussions. I also reserve the right to give (weekly?) short quizzes, without warning, on the reading 

 for a given class period.

Regular attendance and participation: 10%

 Course attendance and lively participation are essential to the success of this discussion section, as

 well as to your own intellectual development as a reader and critic of literature. You are not allowed

 to miss section per the website and 383 syllabus. Unexcused absence from section will result in a

 deduction of 1/3rd of a letter from your final grade. (For example, if you were to miss two section-

 meetings and you earned a B+ average for all assignments, your grade would be adjusted to a B-.) In

 the event you must miss class, however, I do appreciate advance notice by email.

Mid-term examination: 15%

Final examination: 25%


Nota Bene

Please be aware that the 383 website has a number of helpful tools for contextualization: maps, paintings, a detailed timeline. These are excellent sources of information for you to bring up in discussions.


Also all provisions of the ENGL 383 course syllabus apply for the discussion section as well. If you cannot locate your copy of the course syllabus, you can access it through the course home page: http://cti.itc.virginia.edu/%7Eengl383/home.htm