F105 | Inventing Modernism | David Langston

Fridays  1:30 - 3:00 p.m.  | Six Sessions - 4/5, 4/12, 4/19, 4/26, 5/3, 5/10 
In-person at BCC
Limit: 24

Closed Limit Reached

Part of the 1920s Project

Modernism was the single most influential movement in the arts in the twentieth century.Coming to full effulgence in the 1920s, its productions in film, painting, crafts, public speaking, theatre, literature, architecture, home decoration, and fashion were all conditioned by its basic beliefs and aesthetic ideas.Even episodes and ideas which might seem remote from Modernism were shaped profoundly by the vitality of its presence Notable politicians, from William Jennings Bryan to Adolph Hitler and the Ayatollah Khomeini, rose to prominence by denouncing its influence. Because it is so pervasive, Modernism is not a simple movement.It was invented, re-invented, and modified with numerous ramifications in almost every aspect of the human condition. At the same time, Modernism repeatedly resorts to a few fundamental ideas which, once understood, can be seen at work in various combinations in all sorts of unexpected places.  

This course will examine the roots of Modernism in a cluster of works by philosophers, painters, architects, writers, and musicians who were its advocates and practitioners. In these works, we will see the basic principles and practices of Modernism spreading from one area of cultural production to another.In just a few short years and in a confined social arena, the developments in painting affected philosophical notions.These notions in turn took form in architecture which shapedpolitical which were then represented in literature and dramatized in film.  

Suggested Readings:  

  • Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams, “Chapters 1-4 

  • T. Eliot: The Waste-Land, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” 

  • Ezra Pound: “In a Station in the Metro,” “The River Merchant’s Wife,” “A Pact,” “The Return,” Canto 1-4. 

  • William Carlos Williams: “Spring and All,” “The Red Wheelbarrow,” “Portrait of a Lady,” “The Yachts.”  

  • Adolf Loos: “Ornament and Crime”

David J. Langston is Professor of English, Emeritus at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts where he has taught such courses as Inventing Modernism, Romantic Poetry, The Postmodern Condition,Critical Reading, Literature as Play, and The Bible as Narrative.  

He has held several academic fellowships, has received awards for excellence in teaching, and served as MLCA’shonors program director as well as chairperson of the Commonwealth (Massachusetts) Honors Program.He has offered OLLI courses on the poetry of Emily Dickinson and Wallace Stevens and on the contrasting visions of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Herman Melville. 


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