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Engl436a – Updates (Fall 2017)

  • “There should be no excuse given for the establishment of a belief that a functional nervous disability constitutes a right to compensation. This is hard saying. It may seem cruel that those whose sufferings are real, whose illness has been brought on by enemy action and very likely in the course of patriotic service, should be treated with such apparent callousness. But there can be no doubt that in an overwhelming proportion of cases, these patients succumb to ‘shock’ because they get something out of it. To give them this reward is not ultimately a benefit to them because it encourages the weaker tendencies in their character. The nation cannot call on its citizens for courage and sacrifice and, at the same time, state by implication that an unconscious cowardice or an unconscious dishonesty will be rewarded.” (qtd. in Shephard, Ben. A War of Nerves: Soldiers and Psychiatrists, 1914-1994. London, Jonathan Cape, 2000.
  • “If” by Rudyard Kipling
  • If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too:
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
    Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

    If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same:.
    If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

    If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
    And never breathe a word about your loss:
    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
    If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much:
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

  • from “The Angel in the House” by Coventry Patmore
  • Man must be pleased; but him to please
    Is woman’s pleasure; down the gulf
    Of his condoled necessities
    She casts her best, she flings herself.
    How often flings for nought, and yokes
    Her heart to an icicle or whim,
    Whose each impatient word provokes
    Another, not from her, but him;
    While she, too gentle even to force
    His penitence by kind replies,
    Waits by, expecting his remorse,
    With pardon in her pitying eyes;
    And if he once, by shame oppress’d,
    A comfortable word confers,
    She leans and weeps against his breast,
    And seems to think the sin was hers;
    Or any eye to see her charms,
    At any time, she’s still his wife,
    Dearly devoted to his arms;
    She loves with love that cannot tire;
    And when, ah woe, she loves alone,
    Through passionate duty love springs higher,
    As grass grows taller round a stone.

All the secondary readings are available at OpenModernisms, healing in either downloadable or digitally readable formats. You do not require an account to access these materials.

This seminar at the American Comparative Literature Association‘s conference (a really big deal academic event) is open specifically to MA and advanced BA students — consider submitting something! If you want to, viagra button-hole me and let’s talk ideas.

Some essays you might want to have a look at to get a clearer sense of what modernism was/is, and how it shapes our current understanding:

“Definitional Excursions” Susan Stanford Friedman

“Periodizing Modernism” Susan Stanford Friedman

“The New Modernist Studies” Douglas Mao and Rebecca Walkowitz

“What Was Modernism?” Harry Levin

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