This course is organized around an investigation into the representations and aesthetics of the city street in United States literature. By reading widely across a range of literary styles and genres we will ask questions such as: How can we use the literary street to examine social and political relations in the United States? To what extent does the dynamism of the city street shift between literary styles and genres? Why is the city street a particularly productive space for engaging themes of play, desire, rebellion, resistance, temptation, and danger? What new perspectives or critical frameworks can the street give us concerning the political climate we are currently living in? And how do writers, artists, and musicians use the space of the street to speak back to narratives that seek to contain, oppress, and control marginalized populations and spaces?
Note that since this course fulfills the “W” requirement, you should expect to do a great deal of writing (in the form of in-class exercises and formal, graded papers). Class time will be student-centered and discussion-based, so it is very important that you come to class prepared to engage with challenging texts and topics. Please keep this in mind when registering for ENGL 242.