Crisis and Rebellion: Modernism, the Avant-garde, and Existentialism
Continuing the inquiries begun in IPHS 113Y-114Y, this seminar addresses the rise of modernism, which represented a massive fissure in Western consciousness. A fault line visible since Romanticism suddenly fractured and one consequence was that something utterly unique, highly unsettling and profoundly revolutionary occurred: the role of art and the artist leapt into extraordinary prominence. Why in modernism do the issues of "self," "society" and "authority" figure so prominently in the aesthetic domain? What does the signal role of art suggest about the character of modernism itself? How successful has art been as the focal point of questions regarding authority? Is art's centrality itself a paradoxical response to the issues of complexity, specialization, fragmentation and relativity that inform the modern world? In view of modernism's paradoxes and chief concerns, we will address contending views of art and authority in various disciplines and media, including the visual arts, architecture, philosophy, literature, music, dance and film. Readings will include Baudelaire, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Woolf, Kafka, Breton and Sartre. Films will include Triumph of the Will, Rashomon, and Mulholland Drive. If you would like this course to be used as .5 unit of history toward fulfilling diversification requirements in the Social Sciences Division, you must take it as IPHS 215D. Prerequisite: IPHS 113Y-114Y or two semesters of English or philosophy. This course will be offered every other year.