Literature and Exile: American Writers in Paris

Module code: EN7132

Module co-ordinator: Professor Martin Halliwell

American writers have always had a tense relationship with European culture. In the post-Revolutionary period, European art forms helped bring about the emergence of American literature, but by the mid-nineteenth century writers began to distance themselves from European culture as failing to address their own national circumstances. However, by the early twentieth century, writers such as Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry Miller, and James Baldwin began to blend elements of American and European writing in order to embrace the international spirit of modernism.

Paris proved particularly exciting for these writers as a cultural metropolis representing artistic and sexual freedom in an age of American Prohibition, mass commercialism, and political intolerance.

This special subject module explores a range of creative work by Americans living in Paris after World War I. It focuses particularly on the 1920s and 30s, considering issues of:

  • Exile
  • Pessimism
  • Experimentation
  • Sexuality
  • African-American writers in Paris in the 1940s and 50s

Assessment

  • A 4,000-word essay