Luxury and Global Modernism

Spring 2018-2019

22150

Jacob Harris

The desire for and consumption of luxury is central to the world-building enterprise of capitalist modernity as we understand it, from the elaboration of colonial trade routes to the emergence of the era-defining aesthetic mode known as glamor. As both the object of the primitivizing imaginary of colonial social science and the motor of excitement for the new in the modern Western city, luxury infused some of the complexities of global interconnectedness into the imagination and the arts of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. With readings across the literary, but also the material-cultural and social-scientific archives of Western and non-Western modernisms, this course asks how luxury might open new avenues for the study of modernism’s inherently global character. Course texts will include literary works by Henry James, Djuna Barnes, Mina Loy, and MP Shiel; social scientific works by Marcel Mauss and Georges Bataille; visual works by Raghubir Singh, Coco Chanel, and Josephine Baker; theoretical readings from the fields of postcolonial, queer, and fashion studies. (1830-1940, Fiction, Theory)