George Orwell and Modernity

Term: Spring 2013

Subject Code: GLIB

Course Number: 5834

This seminar will examine the work of Orwell (aka Eric Arthur Blair) as he responded to the twentieth century as a novelist, journalist, and cultural critic.  We will read selections from the many genres in which he wrote:  political memoirs (Down and Out in Paris and London, The Road to Wigan Pier, and Homage to Catalonia), novels (Animal Farm, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Keep the Aspidistra Flying), and essays.  Working from the assumption that reading Orwell is an education in the history and politics of the first half of the twentieth century, we will focus on his complicated positions on class, colonialism, imperialism, totalitarianism, fascism, socialism, and the idiosyncrasies of British culture, from boys’ weekly magazines to the semiotics of tea.  Above all, we will explore Orwell’s understanding of the power of words to reflect and shape the world.

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