BA Seminar: American Modern

B.A. Seminar

American Modern:

Prof. Elisabeth Bronfen

Tuesday 16.15 -18.00



(1.) Introduction


What is American about the Modern


(2.) Charlie Chaplin: Modern Times


(3.) Eugene O'Neill: The Iceman Cometh (Screening)


(4.) Preparatory session


(5.) Willa Cather: The Song of the Lark


Regionalism and Urban Spaces of Modernity


(6.) John Ford: Grapes of Wrath


(7.) Guest lecture by Prof. Deborah Madsen


(8.) Dorothy Parker: "Big Blonde", "The Lovely Leave," "Arrangement in Black and White, "Mr. Durant," "The Waltz," "A Telephone Call", "Just a Little One," The Little Hours"


(9.) Dashiell Hammett: Red Harvest


(10.) Marx Brothers: Duck Soup


(11.) John Sturges: Sullivan's Travels


Aesthetics of Modernity


(12.) John Dos Passos: Manhattan Transfer


(13.) William Faulkner: Sanctuary


(14.) What I have learned - Final discussion


Additional Reading: A New Literary History of America. Edited by Greil Marcus and Werner Sollors, pgs. 512-747, passim. Clearly you are required to read the entries to the material directly discussed in class. But it might be interesting to read in between as well, given that we are limited in time as to what we can cover.


Requirements: All students will be asked to write a brief thesis for all the sessions. You may be called on individually to present it or be asked to feed it into the general discussion. This is meant as an exercise for you to prepare each class session efficiently in advance. All Students will, furthermore, be asked to do a written protocol of one of the sessions. 6 KP B.A. students will be asked in addition to write a paper on issues raised in the seminar. Ideally you would use the class sessions to develop ideas you might want to write on. The fourth session is meant for you to practice writing thesis statements.