The Avant-Garde in North America: Creative and Critical Practice (957Q3B)

30 credits, Level 7 (Masters)

Spring teaching

This module incorporates poetry, film, dance, music, and the visual arts. It is assessed by either critical work, or by critical & creative work (writing and/or other forms of creative practice). We develop an understanding of American experimental culture from approximately 1945 to 1985. The writers and artists included challenge or trouble the conventions of their times. They test dominant ideas about what art is (what poetry should look and sound like, what art should try to do) and question the social norms and values that underpin such ideas. We focus on three sites of cultural production in particular, New York, San Francisco, and Black Mountain College. We remain alive to questions of Empire, migration, and the problematic exclusion of racial difference from theories of the avant-garde. An indicative list of subjects includes: New York School Poetry; Umbra; Queer Cinema; the San Francisco Renaissance; Pop Art; Judson Dance Theatre; Anarchitecture; John Cage and chance operations.


100%: Practical (Workshop)


100%: Practical (Portfolio)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 300 hours of work. This breaks down into about 33 hours of contact time and about 267 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

We regularly review our modules to incorporate student feedback, staff expertise, as well as the latest research and teaching methodology. We’re planning to run these modules in the academic year 2022/23. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to feedback, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let you know of any material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.