Download a PDF here

English 36602: British and Irish Modernism

Section 2MM, Summer 2019

3 Credits / 3 Hours

Mon. through Thurs., 2:30-5:05pm



Welcome to ENG 36602: British and Irish Modernism.

 Between 1890 and 1930, the British and Irish public experienced a staggering number of social and political upheavals.  The Second Boer War, World War I, and the partition of Ireland signaled both the end and the failure of the empire project; the passage of the Representation of the People Act enacted (partial) women’s suffrage; while the rapid transformation of technology and the decline in traditional social, political, and religious values left the public with a sense of alienation and incoherence.

 Modernist authors valued formal innovation and experimentation in their response to these events, creating a new literature to properly chronicle a fractured modernity.  In this course, we will read Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier, Rebecca West’s The Return of the Soldier, and Virginia Woolf’s The Waves, as well as poetry by T.S. Eliot, W.B. Yeats, Stevie Smith, and Louise Bennett, among others.  At the end of the semester, we will read Zadie Smith’s N/W and reflect on the influence and legacy of this rich artistic period.

 It is with great pleasure that I look forward to reading and analyzing these texts with you.

Course Goals and Objectives

  • Assess these authors and their works in light of dominant historical and cultural trends, including a decline in traditional values, the emancipation of women, the devastation of World War I, and the fall of the Empire project

  • Hone skills of critical argumentation based on a close reading of the relationship between the subject of a text and its form

  • Develop an original and compelling writing voice

  • Discover the pleasure of reading these texts

Required Materials 

All books are available at the CCNY Bookstore.

  • Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier.  ISBN-13: 978-0199585946

  • Rebecca West, The Return of the Soldier.  ISBN-13: 978-0141180656

  • Virginia Woolf, The Waves.  ISBN-13: 978-0156031578

  • Zadie Smith, N/W.  ISBN-13: 978-0143123934

Recommended Materials and Resources 

  • Purdue University Online Writing Lab (MLA Style Guide): <>

  • Google Scholar: <>

  • William Strunk and E.B. White, The Elements of Style (Fourth Edition).  ISBN-13: 978-0205309023 


You may bring laptops in order to take notes but no cell phones, headphones, or portable music players.

Attendance and Punctuality

Attendance is mandatory.  Only two absences and two times arriving late (more than ten minutes) will be excused.  Each additional unexcused absence will result in half a letter grade dropped. (Two lates equal one unexcused absence).  Six unexcused absences will result in a failing grade.  If you know you will be late or absent, please email me.

Academic Integrity

All students must adhere to City College’s code of academic integrity, which reads in part:

Academic integrity is an essential part of the pursuit of truth, and of your education. We are all are all responsible for maintaining academic integrity at City College—it is the rock on which the value of your degree is built.

If you cheat on a test or plagiarize by using someone else's work or ideas, you defeat the purpose of your education. In addition, academic dishonesty is prohibited in the City University of New York, and is punishable by failing grades, suspension and expulsion.

For the complete policy, follow this link:


Assignments must be emailed to by 11:59pm on the day on which they are due.  Assignments not handed in at all will be given failing grades.  Talk to me if you are having a serious problem completing the work, and we will work out a plan that is agreeable to us both.  Incomplete or late assignments will lose half a letter grade per day.  This means that if you submit an A paper that is due on Monday on Wednesday, you will receive a B. 

Response Essay: 10 points

Close Reading Essay: 30 points

Research Essay: 30 points

Participation: 30 points

Total: 100 points

Grading Scale: 94-100 = A; 90-93 = A-; 87-89 = B+; 83-86 = B; 80-82 = B-; 77-79 = C+; 73-76 = C

Classroom Participation 

This is a discussion-based course, not a lecture-based one.  I strongly believe that learning is a social practice, and by voicing your reading of these texts to your peers, you are helping to educate the entire classroom, yourself and myself included.  However, I am aware that some people are more comfortable speaking than others—in fact, public speaking regularly tops polls of Americans’ greatest fears—and your participation grade will also include active listening.  However, there will also be no toleration of deliberately racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, or ableist language.  I use the word deliberately because we all have gaps in knowledge and experience and part of the purpose of a college education is assisting each other in filling in those gaps.  Therefore, I encourage respectful debate when your peers or I have said something that is hurtful, insensitive, or ignorant.


 Response Essay: For your first assignment, I will ask you to write a 250-word response essay to one of our assigned texts.

Close Reading Essay: For your second assignment, I will ask you to write a 1000-word close reading essay on one of our assigned texts.  Prompts will be handed out in class, but you are welcome to ask and answer any questions that interest you.

Research Essay: For your final assignment, I will ask you to write a 2000-word research essay that incorporates outside scholarship.  Again, there will be prompts, and again, you are welcome to ignore them.

Since we do not have the time for a drafting process, I strongly recommend sending in papers early and often for feedback. 

Accommodating Disabilities

Lehman College is committed to providing access to all programs and curricula to all students.  Students with disabilities who may need classroom accommodations are encouraged to register with the Access Ability Center/Student Disability Services.  For more information, please contact the Access Ability Center/Student Disability Services, North Academic Center, Room 1-218, phone number (212) 650-5913. 

Title IX 

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects individuals from discrimination based on sex in any educational program receiving federal financial assistance.  Sexual harassment, which includes acts of sexual violence, is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX, and is considered a Civil Rights offense.  City College encourages anyone experiencing harassment, discrimination or sexual misconduct to talk to a faculty member, counselor, or staff; confidential resources are available through the City College Counseling Center at (212) 650-8222.

Classmate Contacts 


Phone Number:




Phone Number:


Reading and Assignment Schedule 

Tuesday, July 2: Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier, Part I, Chapters I-IV; W.B. Yeats, “Sailing to Byzantium”; Yeats, “The Second Coming”

Wednesday, July 3: Ford, The Good Soldier, Part I, Chapters V-VI and Part II; T.S. Eliot, “The Hollow Men”; Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

Thursday, July 4: No Classes Scheduled

Sunday, July 7: Response Essay Due

Monday, July 8: Ford, The Good Soldier, Parts III and IV; W.H. Auden, “September 1, 1939”; Auden, “Spain”

Tuesday, July 9: Rebecca West, The Return of the Soldier, Chapters 1-3; Rupert Brooke, “The Soldier”; Wilfred Owen, “Dulce Et Decorum Est”

 Wednesday, July 10: West, The Return of the Soldier, Chapters 4-6; Isaac Rosenberg, “Dead Man’s Dump”; Siegfried Sassoon, “They”

Thursday, July 11: Virginia Woolf, The Waves, pp.3-51; A.E. Housman, “Loveliest of Trees”’ Housman, “To an Athlete Dying Young” 

Sunday, July 14: Close Reading Essay Due

Monday, July 15: Woolf, The Waves, pp.52-106; D.H. Lawrence, “How Beastly the Bourgeois Is”; Lawrence, “The Ship of Death”

Tuesday, July 16: Woolf, The Waves, pp.107-151; Stevie Smith, “Our Bog Is Dood”; Smith, “Sunt Leones”

Wednesday, July 17: Woolf, The Waves, pp.152-173; Cecil Day-Lewis, “Elegy before Death”; Day-Lewis, “Where Are the War Poets?”

Thursday, July 18: The Waves, pp.174-220; Dylan Thomas, “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night”; Thomas, “The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower”

Monday, July 22: Zadie Smith, N/W, pp.3-109; Philip Larkin, “Church Going”; Larkin, “High Windows”

Tuesday, July 23: Smith, N/W, pp.113-189; Claude McKay, “Old England”; Louise Bennett, “Colonization in Reverse”

Wednesday, July 24: Smith, N/W, pp.190-245; Bennett, “Dry-Foot Bwoy”; Bennett, “Jamaica Language”

Thursday, July 25: Smith, N/W, pp.246-301; Wole Soyinka, “Telephone Conversation”; M. NourbeSe Philip, “Discourse on the Logic of Language”

Sunday, July 28: Research Essay Due

Monday, July 29: Smith, N/W, pp.301-401; A.K. Ramanujan, “Elements of Composition”; Derek Walcott, “A Far Cry from Africa”