Modernism: The Lure of Heresy

Teacher: Ben Gross
Extra Help: Mondays, Room 303 or by appointment.

Honors Modernism: The Lure of Heresy                                                                   

“On or about December 1910, human character changed. I am not saying that one went out, as one might into a garden, and there saw that a rose had flowered, or that a hen had laid an egg. The change was not sudden and definite like that. But a change there was, nevertheless; and, since one must be arbitrary, let us date it about the year 1910.” –Virginia Woolf, “Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown”, 1924.

 Course Overview:

What changed? Why? How? While the world we live in now is one marked by continual-many would say incessant-change, the idea of things being radically different from one year to the next is not a new one. From the Industrial Revolution in middle of the 19th century onward, people started to experience a world with radically different values, ideas, and social conditions. A person could have grown up riding a horse to get somewhere, and died on a plane in this period of time; it is almost impossible to imagine how different the world looked, felt, and even sounded (JRR Tolkien, writer of Lord of the Rings, famously called the internal combustion engine the “infernal combustion engine” because he hated how loud it was). By the end of the 19th century, artists in all media started to directly respond to the changes in the world around them, helping to advance they very changes they were trying to portray. The impact of Modernism as an artistic movement can still be seen all around us today, from the movies we watch (Little Miss Sunshine) to the buildings we see (almost any all glass skyscraper or asymmetrical concrete office building), and we will spend the semester reading novels, poetry, story stories, looking at art, and listening to music that embody Modernism in some way, different as they might be. Hopefully, by January, we will have some idea as to what Modernism is exactly, hard as it might be to define.

 Essential Questions:

      1.     What is Modernism?

      2.     What did Modernist art reflect about the society it came out of?

      3.     Does Modernism still impact our world?

Essential Skills:

      1.     Advance close-reading skills to analyze poetry and prose for theme and meaning.

      2.     Understand subtext and how it contributes to theme in a text.

      3.     Write thesis-based literary analysis essays that utilize textual evidence to support a claim.

      4.     Write timed, in-class essays.

      5.     Understand how form contributes to meaning.

      6.     Read & respond to literary criticism.

Core Texts:

Dubliners by James Joyce

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

The Wasteland by T. S. Eliot

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Policies:

Academic Honesty: Plagiarism is a serious offense in this classroom as it involves theft and dishonesty. Intellectual integrity is central to learning, so I implore you to engage in original thought and cite sources when they are used (including Sparknotes and Schmoop). Work that is plagiarized, either from a fellow student or from an online source, will receive a zero with no chance to make it up, your parent or guardian will be contacted, and the office will be notified. Please see the student handbook for further clarification on the consequences of plagiarism.

Risk-Taking: Many of the texts we will be examining in class are difficult, often with complex themes that are not clearly discernable. Advancing a hypothesis about a text or painting and being ‘wrong’ is central to the learning process. Additionally, much of what we will spend our time examining was ‘risky’ in its time with the authors, painters, architects and musicians themselves taking major chances, often facing financial ruin and public shame if things were not well received. I hope we can use their risk-taking as an inspiration, and try to push ourselves in order to enhance our thinking skills and impact how we see the world around us.

Revision: Revision is central to the writing process; no one that writes professionally turns something in they have not revised themselves, and had others revise for them. We will follow this same professional behavior towards the written word in class, using class time to revise what we write in order to improve ourselves as writers. Additionally, work turned in will be revisable as my feedback on it is meant to improve your abilities as a writer.

Timeliness: All major work must be handed in on time in order to be eligible for revision, and smaller assignments must be handed in on time to be eligible for full credit. Extensions must be arranged before hand.  

Tech: Given the sometimes limited technological resources of the school, if you have access to your own laptop or tablet with keyboard, it cannot hurt to bring it on days when you know you will be using technology. You will know ahead of time when these days will be occurring and will be verbally encouraged beforehand to bring your tech in.

 Grading Policy:

Composition (30%) Composition is synonymous with writing, and will take the form of analytical paragraphs, in class responses to the text, analytical essays, and creative writing pieces.

Analysis (35%) Analysis represents critical thinking about a text and can take the form of study questions and other assessments where you have to think about and analyze a text. It is also embedded in many of the composition assignments, so when you write an analytical paragraph, the analysis is the thoughts you have about the text, whereas the composition is how you express those thoughts. How fluidly you embed a textual quotation would fall under composition while what you have to say about that quotation and how it contributes to a theme in the text is analysis.

Oral Presentation (10%) Oral presentation may take the form of student presentations, participation in class discussions, participation in small group discussions, and other forms of vocalizing one's ideas in class, formally or informally.

Work Habits (25%) Work habits are the study skills necessary to gain mastery over the curriculum. It might take the form of reading quizzes, book annotation checks, revisions of essays, and self-reflections.

The class will feature a variety of assessments, both formal and informal, and you should expect a summative, revisable assessment for each major text we read together. We will also have a non-revisable final assessment that we will spend the final weeks of class working on. Every effort will be made to return work within two weeks of handing it in on time, but with the caveat that the process of doing a careful job reading & assessing longer, major assessments is time consuming.

Because this is an Honors class, you will be reading not just the works of literature, but college-level literary criticism related to them in order to contend with how others have seen and seen into the works, and will be expected to incorporate said literary criticism into your analytical, thesis-based essays. Grappling with how others insights into a text will deepen your own and help you improve yourself as a literature reader and scholar, that said, it is not an easy thing to do, and will be something we work on together as a class.

Exhibition Night, Digital Portfolios, POLs, and College Recommendations:

I will only approve work for exhibition night or POLs if you bring me the original version with the original rubric and notes. Do not just save it on the computer. Likewise, if you think you might ask me for a college recommendation letter, please save any work you are especially proud of with my comments. Bringing your work without my notes and rubric is asking me to do my job twice.

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Thomas Hinkle,
Sep 8, 2014, 8:05 AM
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Thomas Hinkle,
Sep 8, 2014, 8:06 AM
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Thomas Hinkle,
Sep 8, 2014, 8:06 AM
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Thomas Hinkle,
Sep 8, 2014, 8:06 AM
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Thomas Hinkle,
Sep 8, 2014, 8:02 AM
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Thomas Hinkle,
Sep 8, 2014, 8:02 AM
ĉ
Thomas Hinkle,
Sep 8, 2014, 8:02 AM
ĉ
Thomas Hinkle,
Sep 8, 2014, 8:06 AM
ĉ
Thomas Hinkle,
Sep 8, 2014, 8:06 AM
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