Professor Wai Chee Dimock discusses Hemingway’s first book In Our Time, a collection of vignettes published in 1925 that launched Hemingway’s career as a leading American modernist. Professor Dimock examines a cluster of three vignettes from In Our Time to show how Hemingway’s laconic style naturalizes problems of pain and violence amidst the ethnic tensions of the American Midwest. Drawing on the theoretical writings of critics Elaine Scarry and Susan Sontag, and the artistic representations of painter Edvard Munch, Professor Dimock shows how language probes the empathetic boundaries of communal suffering in “Indian Camp” and “Chapter II.” She concludes with a discussion of “The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife” that shows how inter-ethnic conflict between Native Americans and whites is neutralized by the primitive impulse of peacekeeping, the opposite of the violence she reads in the two other vignettes in this cluster.
This course examines major works by Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Faulkner, exploring their interconnections on three analytic scales: the macro history of the United States and the world; the formal and stylistic innovations of modernism; and the small details of sensory input and psychic life.
Warning: Some of the lectures in this course contain graphic content and/or adult language that some users may find disturbing.