Course Schedule

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LIT 480-0 : Radical Women of the Avant Garde (1920-1940s)


This seminar explores the writings and the visual work of women artists associated with the European and American Avant-Garde movements in the early 20th century. We explore how in the arts and major genres of writing, women artists helped develop these movements' radical poetics and critical outlooks on societal normativity. By focusing on this production, we bring under scrutiny both the destabilization of the category "woman" as a primary site of retrospective emphasis and the gender biases in the constitution of the modernist canon, in order to explore the entanglement among socialist, anarchists and anti-colonial groups rather than the singular. How do these artists conceive of their written work and artistic processes as interventions into social, political, and historical realities? How does their subjective view those realities provide an account of the determinations of their gender and sexuality? We will examine avant-garde's experimental forms of writing and visual culture in their fractures, collaged, or inhuman representations of modern personhood as their offered a new feminist and anarchic language. Readings and topics will include: Suffragettes' Manifestos; Valentine de Saint Point's Manifesto of The Futurist Woman and Futurist Manifesto of Lust; Mina Loy, Georgia Douglas Johnson and Nancy Cunard's poetry and chronicles; Claude Cahun, Leonora Carrington, Norah Lange and Silvina Ocampos' surrealist short stories and visual art; Nella Larsen's Passing and Josephine Baker's performances; Gertrude Stein and Djuna Barnes' experimental prose and Sophie Taeuber-Arp's abstract painting; Bauhaus women photography and experimental autobiography.

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