English 385 – Fall 2001

British Modernism

Amardeep Singh



Final drafts due: December 14 (no extensions or lates)

Annotated bibliographies or rough drafts: November 30

Length: 10 pages



Suggested “topics”


  1. The riot of the senses: surface and depth; images of light, color, motion; the interplay of visual and other sensory realms; the discourse of sex/sexuality.

This topic would work especially well with Conrad, Joyce, Stein, Yeats, Eliot, Forster.


B.     Power and politics. What kind of political perspectives have we seen emerging in the texts we have looked at? How is the relationship between politics and art defined in a given text? This topic would work especially well with: Joyce, Forster, Anand, Cesaire, Woolf.


C.     “Scorn for women” vs. “Rub her coke.” Many male modernists seem to have ‘issues’ when it comes to representing women. One manifesto-writer, F.T. Marinetti, goes so far as to include a clause requiring that all members of the Futurist movement in art prove their “scorn for women.” Either approach the question of women with one or more male writers we have read, or work with writers of different genders, and demonstrate a differential approach to modernism. Note: this topic is less interesting as an exercise in attacking male writers than it is as an attempt to see the complexity (or possible feminism) in texts where you might not expect it (along the lines of Sharpe’s response to Forster). This topic would work especially well with: Joyce, Forster, Anand, Eliot, Yeats,


D.     Colonialism of the mind. Colonialism seems to play a distinct role in making certain characters go a little crazy: Aziz, Stephen Dedalus, the narrator in Cesaire’s Notebook. What does colonialism do to the minds of people who are under it?


E. Pick any theme or motif you are interested in.



How to proceed:


For all topics, I’d like to see an engagement with relevant criticism in the field. Some books may be found through a simple library catalog search (though this will become problematic given the size of the class and the limited size of the library’s resources). More effective, however, will be research involving academic journals (use MLA Bibliography). START YOUR RESEARCH EARLY.


Here are options for how to proceed:


1.      A text you haven’t worked on. Work with Cesaire, Anand, or Forster, or return to a text we read earlier in the class that you haven’t written on.


2.      Work with new texts by an author you have already worked on. If you especially like Virginia Woolf, for instance, read another of her novels (for instance, Mrs. Dalloway) as well as some criticism on Woolf, and write an entirely new paper on an aspect of Woolf’s writing that shows the development of her ideas on a given subject.

For this approach, you need not read an entire novel (or book of poetry) by a given author. Some of Joyce’s short stories, for instance, might complement Portrait of the Artist well. However, the point is to be able to write with confidence about a given author’s work.

[Note: because I assume you already have some familiarity with this author, expectations will be higher if you take this approach.]


3.      An argument about modernism featuring two or more texts or authors we have read. At least one of these must be an author from the second half of the course (Forster, Anand, Cesaire, or one of the manifesto-writers).