Beginning in the late 19th Century a new cultural movement was born: the avant garde. This course seeks to understand how and why art and literature that deliberately challenged popular understanding came to be dominant. This course will introduce you to the main currents of 19th and 20th Century avant garde history, theory, and aesthetic practice. Grounding our approach in the specific geographic and historical conditions that gave rise to these individual movements, we will explore their expression through a wide variety of mediums including art and visual culture, literature, poetry, music, and film. We will read both primary and secondary documents as we grapple with these movements' modernist and revolutionary agendas in order to assess their successes and failures and evaluate their impacts and legacies.