Fall 2019 - HUM 309 D100

Literatures and the Arts Across Cultures (4)

Class Number: 1362

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 1:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    HCC 1325, Vancouver

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 12, 2019
    12:00 PM – 3:00 PM
    HCC 1425, Vancouver

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units.



An interdisciplinary study of literary texts in translation and/or art forms across cultures and periods. Students with credit for HUM 381 or 382 under this topic may not take this course for further credit. Breadth-Humanities.



This course examines the aesthetic and cultural experimentations that took place in the course of the 20th century, with a focus on Europe. The articulation of the emerging social realities through the renewal of artistic forms and techniques was deeply felt by writers and artists in the early decades of the century, when the “crisis of language and representation” was made evident by the inability to adapt “representation” to a world in deep social and political crisis. A different crisis followed WWII but it generated the same spirit of radical renewal and contestation of the very notion of representational artistic forms. At the same time, some of the artists who had initially embarked in radical projects later retreated to socially conservative positions. The course focuses on Europe as a “space” rather than an identity. It will therefore include connections with American, African-American, African, Mexican, and Native art as significant influences and sources of exchange with European schools.


At the end of the course, students will be able to: 1) Demonstrate an understanding of the historical development of literary and artistic experimentation in 20th Europe and its connections to different cultural traditions (Americas, Africa, Indigeneity) 2) Develop theoretical and analytical tools pertaining to different literary and artistic forms. 3) Develop their own perspective regarding central questions and debates addressed by 20th century intellectuals with regard to art and representation. 4) Integrate historical, literary, philosophical, aesthetic, and political analysis. 5) Communicate their ideas and the result of their research effectively and engage in class debate. 6) Generate persuasive argumentation and support it through analysis of specific evidence.


  • Attendance and participation 10%
  • Quizzes 20%
  • Presentation project 15%
  • Final research paper 25%
  • Final exam 30%


We will look at literature, art, films, letters, declarations and manifestos that articulate the reflections, anxieties, and challenges of intellectuals about these times of radical change—times which comprised two World Wars, the rise of Fascism, totalitarian regimes, imperialism and decolonization, and technological innovations. We will begin with a few documents from the 19th century (Marx, Wagner, Darwin, Nietzsche, Baudelaire) addressing the emergence of the modern before moving to the early decades of the 20th century with writers articulating modern aesthetics (Freud, Simmel, Krakauer, Lou-Andreas Salomé, Mallarmé, Valéry, Isadora Duncan) and the formulations of the historical avant-gardes (Zola, Fry, Bell, Marinetti, Apollinaire, Gramsci, Trotsky, Shklovsky, Lukács, Buñuel). We will follow with the manifestos of Futurism, Fauvism, Cubism, Imagism, Expressionism, Dada, Vorticism, Constructionism, Surrealism, and Anarchism. After the examination of the regroupings of the 1930s in the midst of the rise of Fascism and the 1940s (W.H. Auden, Mina Loy, Laura Jackson, Horkheimer, Artaud, Sergei Eisenstein, Adorno and Benjamin), we will look at the postmodern re-articulations of the post-WWII period, the emergence of the neo-avantgardes, neorealism and new wave cinema, and art and indigeneity.

Seminars will comprise short lectures, class discussions, use of slides for the work of art, in-class screenings of films and clips.

The main readings are listed in the Required Texts list below. Excerpts from the documents listed in the outline, theory, and slides of art will be provided by the instructor on Canvas.



In-class screenings
·       Josef Kilian (Dir. Pavel Juráček and Jan Schmidt, 1964)
·       Hands over the city (Dir. Francesco Rosi, 1963)
·       Closely Watched Trains (Dir. Jiří Menzel, 1966)  


Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway [1925]. Penguin, 2000.
ISBN: 978-0141182490

Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time: Swann’s Way [1913] Yale UP, 2013.
ISBN: 978-0300185430

Kafka, The Trial [1914-5, p. 1925] Schocken, 1999:
ISBN: 978-0805209990

André Breton, Nadja [1928] Grove Press, 1994. 
ISBN: 978-0802150264

Bohumil Hrabal, I served the King of England [1971; p. 1983] New Directions, 2007. 
ISBN: 978-0811216876

Registrar Notes:

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