A promise of opportunity; a site of misery and alienation; an escape from the country; a space of deviance and crime—the city has historically alternately fascinated and repelled, a spatial locus that mediates the dreams and fears saturating our cultural imaginaries. This course will focus on twentieth- and twenty-first century literary and filmic representations of the city and the urban experience. We will take a broad global and temporal perspective: that is to say, we will read early twentieth-century modernist texts that sought to come to terms with the experiences of alienation and consumerism signified by the city; move on to consider late twentieth-century postmodern representations of city space as a site of futuristic technology and simulacra; and finally, turn to postcolonial renditions of cities in what is known as the “global South”—in sites like Johannesburg, Mumbai, or Lagos—to think about how forms of global socioeconomic and racial inequities are spatially reproduced.
This course is restricted to Junior and Senior English majors, and has a pre-requisite of both ENGL 2102 and 2112 with a minimum grade of C- in each.
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