As the biggest, most diverse, and most cosmopolitan of American cities, New York City has long acted as a magnet on literary writers from all walks of life. In this course, we will attempt to make a substantial cross-section of the (mostly canonized) twentieth-century writings that have come to focus on the city, primarily in fiction (novels and stories), but with forays also into poetry and drama. Our exploration will be framed by state-of-the-art theories about urban literature and by contextual materials of various sorts (both printed and audiovisual). We will pay particular attention to which aspects of city life get selected by writers in proposing their cognitive maps of New York, the degree to which their representations are anchored in space and time, how social relations among New Yorkers are depicted (both individually and at group level), and to what extent the perspectives offered by writers are shaped by identity categories such as race/ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, and age.
This will be a reading course that will require a considerable investment of time (especially in the weeks before the Easter break) as well as a willingness to speak up and participate actively in seminar discussions.
Please note that the precise organization of this course is subject to change since the course may be taught by an Adjunct Professor replacing Prof. Eeckhout.