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Theories of the Avant-Garde

Class at Faculty of Arts |



This course is a companion to CONTEMPORARY POETICS and will expand upon themes set out and explored in that course. Students are encouraged to consider taking BOTH of these courses. As with CONTEMPORARY POETICS, the purpose of this seminar is to trace the development of an historical avant-garde and avant-garde-ism across a number of fields of cultural production, from the end of the 19th-century to the present. The content and organisation of the seminar is not designed to be exhaustive in this regard, but rather to provide a constellation of reference points around which students may be able to structure their own original research. Students are expected to demonstrate a significant amount of personal initiative in familiarising themselves with the various historical developments in 20th century ?experimental? art and poetics, particularly in regards to the evolution of the Anglo-European avant-gardes and discourses of ?post-modernism.? cf. electronic poetry centre

Core Theoretical Texts

Jürgen Habermas, ?Modernity?An Incomplete Project.?

Walter Benjamin, ?The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.?

Jean-François Lyotard, ?What is Post-Modernism??

Hal Foster, ?Who?s Afraid of the Neo-Avant-Garde??

Fredric Jameson, ?Postmodernism and Consumer Society.?

Marjorie Perloff, ?Introduction to 21st-Century Modernism.?


Two essays, of 2,000 words each. Essays must be typed, double-spaced, on one side of regular A4 paper, with a minimum 3cm left-hand margin. Essays must include full bibliographical references (footnotes) for all works cited or paraphrased (preferably in accordance with the MLA style, eg. Emphasis will be placed on the component of original research, and students are advised not to use Web sources in place of adequately researching texts available in print. Plagiarism will not be tolerated and will result in a fail grade. Deadlines for submission of essays are April 6 and May 18. Extensions will only be granted on the basis of prior consultation or written request accompanied by a doctor?s certificate. NB Essay topics will be determined in consultation with the lecturer. Attendance in this course is compulsory (students are allowed a maximum of 3 absences, inclusive of intellectual absence).