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WL 104W - 3 - Modernity's Mirror: Self, Society, and the Crisis of the Modern

Course Outline:

Introduces ways of comparing modern world literatures across time & space.  

May explore topics such as revolution, technology, or existentialism.                 

During the global upheavals of the early 20th century, the terms by which we understood human identity were upended along with traditional notions of human consciousness.  Indeed, many modern literary works focus upon the lone individual struggling against his or her social place.  This course explores how literary works interrogated concepts of self and society during that era of turbulent historical, technological, and cultural change. 

We begin to question the individual self through the “theatrical” dream life of an outsider, Hamlet – by following his story through film and literature, we can better see how solitude becomes a force for change in modernity.  Pursued by the spectre of Hamlet’s self-interrogating presence on stage, we turn to Miss Julie, August Strindberg’s 1888 play on the fault lines of class, feminism, and the lone individual, Lao She’s parable of an innocent young man in a corrupt Chinese society (Rickshaw Boy 1937), Jean Rhys’s exploration of a Caribbean woman’s social resistance in London (Voyage in the Dark 1934), and Mulk Raj Anand’s 1935 portrait of an outcaste youth in pre-independence India, Untouchable.  We will also view screen versions of several of these texts to show how the image of the individual continues to carry ethical weight in postmodern global culture.


SFU WRITING COURSE: skills learned through the term will help students with their written work in all faculties.

Description: WL 104W. Modern World Literatures. Introduces ways of comparing modern world literatures across time and space. May explore topics such as revolution, technology, or existentialism.    Writing/Breadth-Humanities

Students can enroll themselves directly in WL 104W C100 (6961) on goSFU.