Metropolis and Modernity 1

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSOL2EN3354

Semester to which offered: 1 &2

Email of course coordinator: sayandeb[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in

Pre-requisites: None

Aim Drawing traction from the fresh new debates, this course will look at how Modernist European poetry in early late nineteenth and twentieth century grew in response and reaction to the rapid urbanisation of Europe in late 19th and early 20th century.  The course will read, discuss and critically analyse how the works of major European poets during this time responded to this emerging urban modernity as it was being preserved in the feverish change of the urban landscape: the debates over territory, the political edginess, the breakdown of frames of reference, radical art movements, rapid militarisation of skies and seas, urban expansionism, sudden and total alienation of the individual and the search for a personal space in the ruthlessly impersonalising ecosystem of the cities and finally, the lure of catastrophe. The result was a sort of despair at the loss of a familiar and familial climate and imagery and the difficult and productive search for a new idiom, a new language, search most productively embedded in the extraordinary burst of poetry across the Continent. The course will discuss the period between 1855/56 (Baudelaire’s first publications of poems of what to be later collected as Paris Spleen) to the WWII. 

Course Outcomes: On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. Radically question the idea of modernity, politics and representation
  2. Understand Modernism as a cultural and philosophical idea
  3. Develop knowledge about Modernism as a multi-cultural and metropolitan concept
  4. Read poetry from a wide variety of European sources across a century.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

Module1: Understanding Modernism; the metropole; inter-medial modernism, Empire,war and the rise of fascism, foundations for a new poetics

Module 2: The poetry of the city | Europe

  • Charles Baudelaire, Selections from Flowers of Evil and Paris Spleen
  • Federico Garcia Lorca Selections from Poet in New York
  • Osip Mandelstam, Selections from Collected Poems
  • F  Marinetti and Futurism, Selections from Anthology of Futurist Poetry
  • George Trakl, Selections from Song of the Departed

Module 3: The prose of the city | Europe

  • Rainer Maria Rilke, Selection from The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge
  • Fernando Pessoa, Selection from The Book of Disquiet
  • Czeslaw Milosz, Selection from The Captive Mind
  • György Faludy,  Selection from My Happy Days in Hell

Module 4: The poetry of the city | England

TS Eliot, Wasteland

Module 4: Learning to ‘read’ The City

Reading List:

  • Bayly C. A. The Birth of the Modern World 1780–1914: Global Connections and Comparisons. Oxford : Blackwell, 2004 .
  • Berman M, All That is Solid Melts into Air. London Penguin Books, 1988
  • Bradbury Malcolm and James McFarlane, eds. Modernism 1890–1930. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1976.
  • P Brooker and others  (ed) Oxford  Handbook of Modernisms , Oxford: OUP, 2010.
  • Burger, Peter, Theory of the Avant-Garde. Trans. Michael Shaw. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984.
  • Gay Peter, Modernism: The Lure of Heresy, New York : Norton, 2010
  • Lefebvre Henri, Introduction to Modernity, London: Verso, 1995
  • Levenson Michael . A Genealogy of Modernism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984.
  • Nichols Peter, Modernism: A Literary Guide , London, Palgrave Macmillan. 2008
  • Rainey Lawrence, Modernism: An Anthology, London, Wiley-Blackwell. 2005.
  • Ross Alex, The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007.
  • Timms Edward and David Kelley, Unreal City: Urban Experience in Modern European in Literature & Art, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1985.
  • Williams, Raymond. The Politics of Modernism: Against the New Conformists. London: Verso, 1989.

Tentative Assessment schedule with details of weightage:



Date/period in which Assessment will take place



Class assignment 1

Early February



Presentation/Response Paper

Early April



Term paper

End of April