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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : English Literature

Postgraduate Course: Fin de Siècle into Modern (ENLI11247)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will explore the literature of the period 1880-1910: decades of cultural transition and innovation; décadence and modernism; beginnings and 'fins'. For an epoch irreversibly affixed to the sense of an ending, the fin de siècle also witnessed an extraordinary range of new artistic movements and forms of expression, anticipating the spirit of radical experimentation more frequently associated with writers of the twentieth century. For authors writing in English as well as in French, Paris was an epicentre of artistic exchange and institutional daring: home to the Théâtre de l'Oeuvre, the Folies Bergère, the Moulin Rouge, and the Académie des Beaux-Artes. We will examine how a shifting climate of imperial ambition, resurgent nationalisms, urban expansion, and technological novelty shaped the way that writers negotiated the turn of the century in this city and elsewhere. This interdisciplinary course will encourage students to probe into concepts of periodization, genre, and form, considering how literary texts were shaped alongside art-works in other spheres: painting, dance, music, and early cinema. Students will consider the ways in which nineteenth-century movements such as Symbolism and Decadence formulated their aesthetic outlooks, reimagining the relationships between the arts, as well as the artist's place in the modern world. Exploring historical constructions of gender and sexuality, we will discuss the emergence of distinct categories such as the dandy and the New Woman, looking ahead to the political turn of early twentieth-century feminism. By underscoring the 'in-betweenness' of these decades - their status at the boundaries of major literary periods - we will consider new ways of thinking about the transition from the nineteenth to the twentieth century.
Course description Week 1: Introduction to the Course: George Eliot, 'Daniel Deronda' (1876) [extracts]
Week 2: Naturalism: Émile Zola, 'La Bête Humaine' (1890)
Week 3: Symbolist Poetry: W. B. Yeats, from 'Selected Poems'; Arthur Symons, from 'The Symbolist Movement in Literature' (1899)
Week 4: Aesthetes & Dandies: Oscar Wilde, 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' (1890); Joris-Karl Huysmans, 'Against Nature' (1884) [extracts]
Week 5: Decadent Women's Short Fiction: selections from 'Daughters of Decadence', ed. Showalter (1993); Pauline Hopkins, 'Talma Gordon' (1900)
Week 6: Avant-Garde Theatre: Oscar Wilde, 'Salomé' (1894); Alfred Jarry, 'King Ubu' (1896) [extracts]
Week 7: New Woman: Olive Schreiner, 'The Story of an African Farm' (1883)
Week 8: New Technologies: H. G. Wells, 'The Sleeper Awakes' (1910); Rudyard Kipling, 'Mrs Bathurst' (1904)
Week 9: Modern Minds: Henry James, 'The Beast in the Jungle' (1903)
Week 10: Spies and Radicals: Joseph Conrad, 'The Secret Agent' (1907); Emma Goldman, from 'Anarchism and Other Essays' (1910) [extracts]
Week 11: Edwardian Fictions: E. M. Forster, 'Howards End' (1910)

Assessment: 100% coursework essay (4000 words)
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2020/21, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  4
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 196 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 100% coursework essay (4000 words)«br /»
You may also submit a 1,000 word essay plan one month before your essay deadline. This essay plan will not receive a mark, but will form the basis of written feedback given by the course organiser with a view to helping you prepare for your summative assessment.
Feedback Detailed written feedback on optional formative assessment (essay plan) and summative assessment (essay). Both within 15 working days of submission.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the key features of writing across different genres -- poetry, novels, short stories, plays, manifestos -- between 1880-1910.
  2. Critically engage with the notion of 'periodization' and articulate its benefits and limitations in relation to literature of the fin de siècle and early twentieth century.
  3. Articulate the distinctive characteristics of major aesthetic and cultural movements during this period (Aestheticism, Symbolism, Decadence, Modernism).
  4. Reflect on the relationship between the arts and important historical, cultural, and political issues in the late 19th and early 20th centuries e.g. gender, sexuality, race, nationalism, technology, capitalism
Reading List
Albright, Daniel. Panaesthetics: On the Unity and Diversity of the Arts. New Haven, CN: Yale University Press,
Berghaus, Günter. Theatre, Performance, and the Historical Avant-Garde. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.
Bernheimer, Charles. Decadent Subjects: The Idea of Decadence in Art, Literature, Philosophy, and Culture of the Fin-de-Siècle in Europe. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press, 2002.
Dijkstra, Bram. Idols of Perversity: Fantasies of Feminine Evil in Fin-de-Siècle Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989.
Eltis, Sos. Revising Wilde: Society and Subversion in the Plays of Oscar Wilde. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996.
Gagnier, Regenia. Idylls of the Marketplace: Oscar Wilde and the Victorian Public. Aldershot: Scolar Press, 1987.
Garelick, Rhonda K. Rising Star: Dandyism, Gender and Performance in the Fin de Siècle. Princeton, NJ:
Princeton University Press, 1998.
Greiner, Rae. Sympathetic Realism in Nineteenth-Century British Fiction. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins
University Press, 2012.
Lane, Christopher. The Burdens of Intimacy: Psychoanalysis and Victorian Masculinity. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1999.
Mahoney, Kirsten. Literature and the Politics of Post-Victorian Decadence. New York and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.
Marcus, Laura. Dreams of Modernity: Psychoanalysis, Literature, Cinema. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.
Marcus, Laura, Michèle Mendelssohn and Kirsten E. Shepherd-Barr, eds. Late Victorian into Modern. Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 2016.
McGuinness, Patrick, ed. Symbolism, Decadence, and the Fin de Siècle: French and European Perspectives. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2000.
O'Neill, Morna and Michael Hatt, eds. The Edwardian Sense: Art, Design and Performance in Britain, 1901-1910. New Haven, CN: Yale University Press, 2010.
Potolsky, Matthew. The Decadent Republic of Letters: Taste, Politics, and Cosmopolitan Community from Baudelaire to Beardsley. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013.
Reynolds, Dee. Symbolist Aesthetics and Early Abstract Art: Sites of Imaginary Space. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1995.
Sherry, Vincent. Modernism and the Reinvention of Decadence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.
Stokes, John, ed. Fin de siècle/ Fin du globe: Fears and Fantasies of the Late Nineteenth Century. Basingstoke:
Palgrave Macmillan, 1992.
Taxidou, Olga. Modernism and Performance: Jarry to Brecht. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.
Thurschwell, Pamela. Literature, Technology and Magical Thinking. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
Weir, David. Decadence and the Making of Modernism. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1995.
Worth, Katharine. The Irish Drama of Europe from Yeats to Beckett. London: The Athlone Press, 1978.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Keywordssymbolism,decadence,Victorian,New Woman,aesthetics,Edwardian
Course organiserDr Megan Girdwood
Course secretaryMiss Kara McCormack
Tel: (0131 6)50 3030
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