To familiarize the students with the cultural, political and artistic responses to modernity; to provide them with intellectual tools for the evaluation and critique of intellectual and cultural history in the period of study.
Brief description of the course
In this seminar, participants will examine the interconnections of philosophy, literature and the arts from the mid-19th to the mid-20th centuries. Homing in on the rise of ‘modernism’ across Europe, the course takes in not only experimentation in the arts but also the ‘political modernism’ of fascism and communism. It looks at how experiences of time and historicity seem to alter under the conditions of modernity, and how these shifts in temporality were inflected by various currents of thought, including aestheticism, Darwinism, the reception of Nietzsche, the rise of nationalisms, forms of philosophical vitalism, the occult and theosophical movements, mass politics and crowd psychology, publishing and periodical culture, the theorisation of historiography and historicism, and new approaches to anthropology and comparative religion. All these are traced with reference to forms of philosophical and political writing, literary texts, works of art, art criticism, and cinema.
Emphasis will be on discussion and short, informal introductions to the key texts, with responsibility for presenting each text assigned to one of the participants. Participants are expected to read all set texts closely in advance of the seminar and to also familiarize themselves with the supplementary reading. Presentation assignments, reading schedule and other practical details will be elaborated on at the first meeting.
(The list of main readings will be provided soon and all compulsory texts will be made available in digital format.)
Learning outcomes in the course
Upon completing the course the student:
- is able to distinguish a variety of literary, philosophical and visual responses to aspects of modernity (ideology, history, environment) across Europe;
- can use the tools elaborated by different theorists for the analysis and critique of the loose category of ‘modernism’ in culture and politics 1850-1950.
No prerequisites, but a familiarity with philosophical and political ideas, modern European history and modern literature and art will facilitate participation.