About the Course

ENG 394: The Avant-Garde
Fall 2017
T/Th 3:05-4:20 pm, Wall 320
Professor Suzanne Churchill


A course concerned with avant-garde schools, movements, and strategies, “The Avant-Garde” will include exploration of different genres, media, and cultures, and investigate the relationships between avant-garde practice and theory, artistic innovation and social change, and forms, platforms, and politics.


The historical avant-garde refers to European movements that arose in the early 20th century (Futurism, Cubism, Dada, Surrealism, etc.)—predominantly white, male-dominated groups that opposed mainstream values and sought to challenge and shock audiences. While the leading men earned notoriety, women played important roles in these movements, and racial minority groups in American instigated their own avant-garde practices, responding to both the formal innovations and social exclusions of the historical avant-garde. Studying the avant-garde sharpens close reading skills, offers insight into the social and political dimensions of artistic formations, and challenges us to revolutionize our own creative and critical practices.