Literature and the City Prof. Elana Gomel
Edgar Allan Poe, “The Man of the Crowd”
Charles Dickens, Bleak House
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
H. G. Wells, When the Sleeper Wakes
James Joyce, Ulysses (excerpts)
Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
Neil Gaiman, Neverwhere
China Mièville, The City and the City
Additional texts, including but not limited to, works by Charles Baudelaire, Le Corbusier, Walter Benjamin, Raymond Williams and Paul Virilio, will be provided at the beginning of the semester.
Modernity is inseparable from the big city, its crowds, spectacles, sounds and smells. The explosive growth of cities at the beginning of the 19th century paved way for industrialization, technological revolution and global capitalism. It also created a particular type of artistic sensibility: the flâneur, the alienated but curious explorer of the many urban worlds. In modernism and postmodernism, the city is not just setting: it is often the protagonist, eclipsing in importance individual characters. In this seminar, we will follow the development of the city-as-protagonist, from Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle to contemporary urban fantasy. We will also discuss the cultural significance of urban planning and architecture, the divided spaces of the city, and the rise of the global metropolis.
Familiarity with the cultural history of the city
Capacity to analyze contemporary texts in their historical contexts
An independent research project focused on the role of the city in a text or texts of your choosing, theoretically informed and analytically developed.
Two short papers, class participation (mandatory), final paper.
Web resources to be provided
The final grade will be based on the final independently developed project paper (85%) plus 15% of the average of the class grades (paper and class participation). However, failure to fulfill all the requirements will result in Incomplete.