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Fall Registration Opens Aug 22
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CLS 201 — Shell Shock: Art and Literature of the World Wars (An MLA-Style Course)

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Thursdays
Course Format: On-campus (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Sep 29—Dec 8
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Oct 1
Units: 2
Grade Restriction: Credit only; no NGR/letter grade
Tuition: $560
Instructor(s): Miles Osgood
Limit: 18
Class Recording Available: No
Status: Registration opens Aug 22, 8:30 am (PT)
Please Note: No class on November 24
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Sep 29—Dec 8
10 weeks
Refund Date
Oct 1
2 Units
Grade Restriction
Credit only; no NGR/letter grade
Miles Osgood
Registration opens Aug 22, 8:30 am (PT)
Please Note: No class on November 24

Please note: This course is open to students who have not previously enrolled in an MLA-style course through Stanford Continuing Studies.

This course aims to introduce those interested in pursuing a degree in the Stanford Master of Liberal Arts program to the kind of seminar they would likely encounter in the program. Students will face the same kind of intellectual challenges, the same kind of opportunities to engage in weekly discussion, and the same kind of stimulus to write persuasive research essays. Students are required to take this course for credit, submit written work, and contribute to class discussions, as happens in all MLA seminars. However, this course may not be taken for a letter grade, though students’ written work will receive extensive feedback from the instructor. For more information on the MLA Program, visit


For writers and artists all around the world, the Great War exploded the traditions of a “botched civilization” and initiated a new era. In the words of Ezra Pound, “The age demanded an image.” The images that answered the call, from 1914 to 1945, were some of the most varied and striking in all of cultural history, as the rise of total warfare and mass politics coincided with the rise of modernism and experimental art. It was the age of the vanguard and the avant-garde.

In this course, we will consider not only how novels, films, and artworks captured the chaos of two world wars, but also how writers and artists took up arms themselves in political and cultural conflicts. Starting with the competing visions of mechanized war offered by the Italian Futurists and Britain’s “war poets,” we will take up firsthand accounts of the front (by Ernest Hemingway, Robert Graves) and artistic assessments of the Treaty of Versailles (T.S. Eliot, Vladimir Mayakovsky). Turning to the 1930s, we’ll look at the art of propaganda (Leni Riefenstahl), protest (Pablo Picasso), and public action (Virginia Woolf). Finally, we’ll discuss the responsibility that art holds after World War II, in response to the horrors of air raids (Eileen Chang), genocide (Primo Levi), and nuclear bombs (Alain Resnais).

Lecturer, Structured Liberal Education (SLE), Stanford

Miles Osgood received a PhD in English from Harvard, where he designed and taught courses on global modernism, women's literature, and James Joyce. His work has been published in Slate, n+1, The Washington Post, Modernism/modernity, and ARIEL – A Review of International English Literature.