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English Literature   >   Modernism: 2. Literature

What Maisie Knew: Form and Consciousness

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Modernism: 2. Literature

In this course, Professor Max Saunders (King’s College, London) explores some classic works of modernist literature. We begin with a discussion of Henry James’ What Maisie Knew in module one, focussing in particular on James’ narrative technique. In module two, we think about James Joyce’s semi-autobiographical novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and its fragmented narrative form. We then move on in module three to discuss the writing of Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein, focussing in particular on their experimentation with anti-narrative and time. After that, we look at Joseph Conrad and T. S. Eliot in module four, exploring how their work gives expression to a certain 'crisis of meaning' in the modernist period. Module five concludes the course with a discussion of Virginia Woolf and her impressionistic experimentation with narrative form in her novel To the Lighthouse.

What Maisie Knew: Form and Consciousness

In this module, we think about the novel What Maisie Knew by the American modernist Henry James. We begin by exploring what we mean when we talk about the ‘form’ of a modernist novel more generally, i.e. the way in which a certain story or idea is presented by the writer. We then take a closer look at the form of Henry James’ novel, focussing in particular on his masterful narrative technique which seems to reflect the consciousness of his protagonist, Maisie, whilst adopting the voice of a traditional third-person narrator.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Saunders, M. (2019, January 31). Modernism: 2. Literature - What Maisie Knew: Form and Consciousness [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Saunders, M. "Modernism: 2. Literature – What Maisie Knew: Form and Consciousness." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 31 Jan 2019,

Image Credits

"Vanessa Bell, Flowers" by Irina, licensed under CC BY 2.0


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Prof. Max Saunders

King's College London