John Higgins, Senior Research Scholar and Emeritus Professor, University of Cape Town

1922 is remembered as a key date in European Modernism, and notably as the year of first publication for James Joyce’s Ulysses, T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land and Virginia Woolf’s Jacob’s Room. This course will examine a wide range of texts which together capture the extraordinary energy and innovation manifest in 1922. As guiding threads for our inquiry, we shall take the interweaving themes of trauma and utopia. Trauma, as the aftershock of the horrors of the First World War impact on the creative mind; utopia, as the early years of the Russian Revolution seem to promise a renaissance of the human spirit. Torn between traumatic repetition and utopian innovation, it is hardly surprising that the great modernist works of 1922 continue to speak to us one hundred years later.


Lecture titles

1.  Introduction: trauma and utopia 1914–1924

2.  Prose: Joyce, Proust and Woolf

3.  Poetry: T.S. Eliot, Mayakovsky and Rilke

4.  Visual arts: Dix, Klee, Picasso and Yuon

5.  Drama and cinema: Brecht, Murnau, Lang and Vertov


Selected works

TEXTS: Bertolt Brecht Drums in the Night, T.S. Eliot The Waste Land, James Joyce Ulysses, Mayakovsky 150 000 000, Marcel Proust Swann’s Way, Rainer Maria Rilke Duino Elegies and Virginia Woolf Jacob’s Room

VISUAL ARTS: Otto Dix Death and Resurrection, Paul Klee Twittering Machine, Pablo Picasso Two Women Running on the Beach and Konstantin Yuon New Planet

CINEMA: Fritz Lang Dr Mabuse, the gambler;
F.W. Murnau Nosferatu;
Dziga Vertov Kino Pravda 6





DATE: Monday 10–Friday 14 January
TIME: 11.15 am
COURSE FEES: R375 (online)/R550 (in person)