Beyond Literary Landscapes—Modernist Literature

From my early beginnings as a young introvert, the public library has always been a bit of a refuge.  Years later, not much has changed, albeit with an additional affinity for endless hours spent scouring second-hand bookstores to add to my ever-growing “to-read” pile.

From one bookworm to another, this column will be underscoring and outlining various literary genres, authors, and recent reads, and can serve as an introduction for those unfamiliar with these works, as a refresher for long-time aficionados, and maybe as an inspiration for readers to share their own suggested topics.  Do you have a topic that you would like covered in this column?  Feel free to contact me for an interview and a feature in an upcoming column.


The Modernist period in art, dance, and literature took place from the late 19 to the mid-20 centuries.  The period was characterized by “a growing alienation incompatible with Victorian morality, optimism, and convention.”

Features of Modernist writing includes experimentation, such as stream-of-consciousness and non-linear narratives; individualism; free verse; varied perspectives; and the use of a great deal of literary devices.

Examples of Modernist writers include T.S.  Eliot, James Joyce, Zora Neale Hurston, Virginia Woolf, and F.  Scott Fitzgerald.

For further reading, consider Ernest Hemingway, E.E. Cummings, and Ezra Pound.


Some examples of Modernist Literature include The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot, Ulysses by James Joyce, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, and The Great Gatsby by F.  Scott Fitzgerald.


These novels are set throughout the United States and well as Great Britain.


These works take place during the 19th, and 20th-centiries.


These novels may attract AU students who enjoy experimental literary styles, such as stream-of-consciousness and multiple perspectives, and would like to learn more about where these particular styles originated.  The works may also be of interest for learners who would like to know more about the general morale following the first world war, and the subsequent themes and topics that developed in literature.  Some examples include disillusionment, loss, as well as revolutionary experimentation.


AU’s wide range of diverse courses make it easy to study this topic in depth.  Courses related to Modernist Literature are available in a variety of disciplines, including one’s that may fit into your Degree Works.  (Always check with an AU counsellor to see if these particular courses fulfill your personal graduation requirements!)

AU students interested in learning more about this topic may enroll in ENGL 395: The Nineteenth-Century English Novel, a six credit, senior-level course, which “introduces the student to some of the major English novels of the nineteenth century.”

Students may also consider ENGL 393: The Early Twentieth-Century English Novel, a three-credit, senior-level course, which “focuses on the first four decades of the twentieth-century British novel, its history and development, its rich variety of forms and techniques, and the ideas and events that influenced it.”

In addition, ENGL 344: American Literature I, a three-credit, senior-level course, which “introduces students to American literature, its history and development” and ENGL 345: American Literature II, a three-credit, senior-level course, which “continues the exploration of the history and development of American literature and its rich variety of forms and techniques,” may also be appealing.  (Note that for all the above-mentioned courses, several prerequisites are required, including ENGL 211: Prose Forms and ENGL 212: Poetry and Plays or a first year English course.)  Happy reading!