a wall of books

Uncommon Arrangements: Love in Modernist Fiction

This seminar will examine the representation of love and relationships in modernist novels published between 1910-1945, a period spanning the two world wars in which a radically new order of gender, sexuality, and class relations coincided with innovations in literary representation. We will look closely at a range of affectionate relationships including: traditional marriage, unconventional domestic arrangements, same-sex couplings, friendship, childlike relationships, and creative attachments of emotional or political necessity. Beginning with some early essays and short stories on the topic of love and romance, we will generate a series of problems and questions in order to ask: Did the sexual frankness of the moderns contribute to cultural stability or disorder? Do unconventional arrangements work? How is romantic experimentation depicted? Can betrayal be channeled into something that strengthens the tie between people? Is it possible that some extraordinary arrangements are more enduring than ordinary marriage? By exploring such questions we will attempt to understand why the topic of love was such an enduring source of cultural fascination for modernist writers.

Taught by Jane Garrity ONLINE during Maymester (May 11 - May 29, 2020).