Modernist Manifestoes: 1880 - 1939

Course Dates: 23/04/21 - 16/07/21
Time: 10:15 - 12:15
Location: Online
The word manifesto implies the creation of a new reality – perhaps the more improbable the better – through the act of speech. This course examines the manifestoes and movements of the modernist period (late-19th and early-20th centuries), which sought to radically redefine the possibilities of art, politics and life.
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
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Full fee £189.00 Senior fee £151.00 Concession £115.00

This course has now started

Course Code: HLT13

Started Fri, day, 23 Apr - 16 Jul '21

Duration: 10 sessions (over 13 weeks)

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

From Symbolism to Surrealism, the artistic and cultural movements of the modernist era felt compelled to stake their claim to originality and relevance through the writing and publication of numerous manifestoes. These works ranged from straightforward descriptions of intent to absurd and obscene polemics on every literary and artistic movement that came before. Indeed, many manifestoes were so radical in their presentation, that they became artistic works in their own right.

This course will study the history of these unusual texts and the movements they attempted to launch. As works of artistic and literary theory, they establish guidelines for new movements and trends. However, as we’ll examine in literary works and visual art, such guidelines are often rarely adhered to, suggesting other possible motives for manifesto-writing. Indeed, the manifestoes became so prevalent by the early-20th century, many such manifestoes were written as parodies. On the other hand, many manifestoes were serious attempts to reconceive the relationship between the artist and the audience, as well as the artwork and everyday life. This course, in comparing the manifestoes to selected works in their associated movements, will explore the success and failure of different manifestoes in achieving just that.

This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

The course will begin by examining the concept of the manifesto as a statement of purpose. The rhetorical forms usually associated with the manifesto – aggressive, exaggerated – are relevant to this context. We will then look at the phenomena of the avant-gardes in the modernist period, which were strongly associated with the manifesto form. Avant-garde movements, such as Futurism, Dada, and Surrealism, also used manifestoes as a way to bring different artistic mediums into conversation with one another, and this course will examine that inter-art relationship. Finally, this course will explore questions of class and popular versus elite culture in both manifestoes and literary and artistic works, as well a relationships of gender, ethnicity and nationality.

Topics include:
• Manifestoes
o Jean Moreas – The Symbolist Manifesto
o F T Marinetti – The First Manifesto of Futurism
o Umberto Boccioni, et al. – The Manifesto of the Futurist Painters
o Vladimir Mayakovsky, et al. – A Slap in the Face of Public Taste
o Guillaume Apollinaire – The New Spirit and the Poets (selection)
o Wassily Kandinsky – Concerning the Spiritual in Art (selection)
o Ezra Pound – A Few Don’ts by and Imagiste
o Wyndham Lewis – The Blast! Manifesto
o Tristan Tzara – DADA Manifesto
o Vicente Huidobro – Creationism
o Andre Breton – The First Manifesto of Surrealism (Selection)
o Antonin Artaud – Manifesto of the Theatre of Cruelty
o Diego Rivera, et al. – Manifesto for an Independent Revolutionary Art
• Literary works
o Stephane Mallarme – A Roll of the Dice Will Never Abolish Chance (poem)
o Vladimir Mayakovsky – A Cloud in Trousers (poem)
o Guillaume Apollinaire – The Breasts of Tiresias (play)
o Selection of Imagist poems
o Wyndham Lewis – Tarr (novel - selection)
o Leonora Carrington – The House of Fear (Short Stories)
o Selection of Surrealist poems
o Vicente Huidobro – Altazor (poem - selection)
o Antonin Artaud – The Cenci (play).

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

• Evaluate and analyse the texts being studied.
• Engage with manifestoes from a number of different perspectives, including the literary and aesthetic, as well as political and social.
• Contexualise the literature and movements of the modernist avant-gardes.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

You don’t need any particular skills for this course. Some of the topics addressed are controversial, so a willingness to engage with the readings and listening to the views of fellow students will be essential.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

We will examine a selection of manifestoes, and related poetry, prose, drama, and visual arts. Close readings, work in small groups and pairs, and discussions of historical and literary contexts will be part of the course activity. Other than reading the texts before class, there will be no work outside of class.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

Most texts will be provided by the tutor, they’re generally very short, but some may need to be purchased or borrowed from the library. Titles to buy or borrow tbc in January 2021.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Look for other literature courses at, culture & writing/literature.

James Leveque

Although he has lived in the United Kingdom for more than ten years, James Leveque is a native of California. He has taught courses in literature at City Lit, the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier, and the University of Dundee. James’s first monograph, entitled Words Like Fire: Prophecy and Apocalypse in Apollinaire, Marinetti, and Pound (Legenda) will be published in 2021. His research interests lie at the intersections of literature, religion, and social theory – particularly in 20th-century English, American, and French literature.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.