Modernism and Avant Garde

Subject ENGL20022 (2014)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2014.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 2 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2014.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 1.5-hour lecture and a 1-hour tutorial per week.
Total Time Commitment:

Total expected time commitment is 102-hours across the semester, including class time.





Recommended Background Knowledge:


Non Allowed Subjects:

106-227 Modernism and Avant Garde

Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry. The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:


Dr Justin Clemens

Subject Overview:

This subject examines the movement in literature and other arts that lasted from roughly 1890 to roughly 1930 and which we know as modernism. It will provide an overview of the social and intellectual context of modernism, and of its relation to other social movements. Rather than trying to survey every major modernist writer, however, it will work with close readings of a small number of key figures: the poets Yeats, Pound and Stevens, the novelist Joyce (on whose Ulysses, one of the central modernist texts, we will spend three weeks), and two figures who work in deliberately indeterminate genres, Breton and Stein. In addition, in the spirit of modernisms transcendence of conventional boundaries between art forms, we will spend time looking at Cubism and Surrealism, and at film (the work of Eisenstein and Chaplin), and we will pay close attention to the manifesto, one of the key modernist genres.

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of the subject students should have:

  • acquired a broad knowledge of the modernist movement across several media, and a more detailed familiarity with a small group of key modernist writers, artists and film-makers;
  • an understanding of some of the theoretical underpinnings of the modernist movement and of its relation to broader social developments;
  • developed analytic skills in the close reading of difficult texts, and sophisticated explanatory skills to deal with the complexity of the aesthetic and social issues involved in studying this movement.

Written work of 4000 words comprising one essay of 1500 words (40%), due mid-semester, and a second essay of 2500 words (60%), due in the examination period. This subject has a minimum hurdle requirement of 75% attendance and regular participation in tutorials. Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per day. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts:

  • Selected Poems (Yeats)
  • Selected Poems (Pound)
  • Selected Poems (Stevens)
  • Ulysses (Joyce)
  • Nadja (Breton)
  • Selected Writings (Stein)
  • Modernism: An Anthology of Sources and Documents (Kolocotroni et al., ed.)
Recommended Texts:

  • Illuminations (Benjamin)
  • Modernism: 1890-1930 (Bradbury and McFarlane)
  • Theory of the Avantgarde (Burger)
  • The Modern Tradition (Ellmann and Feidelson, ed)
  • The Pound Era (Kenner)
Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

Students who successfully complete this subject will:

  • be able to apply research skills and critical methods to a field of inquiry;

  • be able to develop persuasive arguments on a given topic;

  • be able to communicate oral and written arguments and ideas effectively and articulately.


Students who have completed 673-342 Modernism and Avant Garde are not eligible to enrol in this subject.

Related Course(s): Bachelor of Arts(Media and Communications)
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: English Literary Studies Major
English and Theatre Studies
English and Theatre Studies
English and Theatre Studies
European Studies

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