Literary Modernism: The Struggle for Modern History : The Great Courses: English Literature

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Jeffrey Perl
  • Series: The Great Courses: English Literature
  • 6 hrs and 13 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

Professor Perl invites you in these eight lectures to abandon your preconceptions and consider some of the most controversial authors of the 20th century: the Modernists.Who were they? How did "classical" Modernists like Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, and James Joyce differ from "neo-Modernists" like Gertrude Stein and William Carlos Williams? What made them believe and write as they did? Why were political extremism, war, and self-destructive behavior such defining forces in their writing (and their personal demons)? What do they have to say to us today in the 21st century?
These lectures place literary Modernism within the wide-ranging context of the philosophy, literature, politics, and morality of its time. In doing so, they allow you to look more clearly at the writers and works who have contributed to the definition of human culture. You'll see Eliot, Joyce, Pound, Yeats, James, Lawrence, and others spring to life with their radical beliefs about art and their unforgettable novels and stories. These lectures do not shrink from the challenges imposed by exploring Modernism, or from challenging the answers that scholars have routinely accepted. Nor do they shy away from the difficulties of literary Modernism itself; a literary genre that intimidates many. But despite all this, these lectures are brilliantly organized, crystal clear, and an invaluable tool for finally wrapping your brain around a dramatic roster of authors and an enduring canon of literature.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Fine record of Perl's thinking

Jeffrey Perl was my advisor as an English major back in college. He was a spellbinding lecturer, brilliant and cocksure. My friends and I would leave his lectures dazzled, the whole universe making sense for a few minutes afterwards.
This course, recorded in the late 90's, is a distillation of the Modern British Literature class I took in the mid-80's. That class took a whole semester and we spent two weeks on Ulysses alone. Here, the good Prof. is forced to disgorge his theories about Joyce in less than an hour; similarly, his very interesting unit on Samuel Beckett is squeezed into half an hour! Since I remember these lectures very well I was able to follow his line of reasoning, but when Perl was presenting his new research on TS Eliot, based on work he'd done in the intervening time, I almost got lost.
I'm sure Prof. Perl got a couple of bills (and I hope some residuals) to compact his basic class into six and a half hours over two days. He's a great thinker and I can recommend this course if you're familiar with the works discussed (Eliot, Yeats, Pound, Joyce, Waugh, Beckett), but I would hesitate to get it if not.
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- Peregrine


Despite the brevity, Perl packs each lecture with powerful analyses and quotes liberally from the texts. The best compliment is that while I learned much, he's whet my appetite to revisit or visit the works in question.
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- Daniel

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-08-2013
  • Publisher: The Great Courses