Modernism and the Arts

3 credits core Literature
3 credits core Arts
6 credits Philosophy

Modernism and the Arts is a year-long, twelve-credit course on Modernism and the expressive arts of literature, music, painting, sculpture and architecture. The focus all year will be on the distinctive features that appear with the emergence of twentieth-century European and American culture.

The historical period that bridges the late 19th and early 20th centuries was a period of rapid-- and almost certainly unprecedented-- transformation in Western culture. Life was changing, the world was changing, and these changes, while often beneficial, were causing, and still cause, a great deal of anxiety and confusion. Modernism and the Arts studies the ways leading writers, philosophers and artists responded to this complicated period of renewal, reform, and rejection. In the process of seeking to discover the common cultural vision informing Modernist art, we will also be considering, through and with that art, the various philosophical questions that have occupied thinkers and artists for millennia.

Common Reading List

Charles Baudelaire, “The Painter of Modern Life”
Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy
Impressionism, Cubism, Surrealism, Futurism
Richard Wagner, Tristan and Isolde
T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land
James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse
Igor Stravinsky, Rite of Spring
José Ortega y Gasset, “Dehumanization of Art”
Walter Benjamin, "Work of Art in the Age of its Mechanical Reproducibility"
Jean-Paul Sartre, ”Existentialism is a Humanism”
Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
Charlie Chaplin, Modern Times
Ingmar Bergman, The Seventh Seal
Miles Davis, Kind of Blue