||TTH 9:30-11:00||335 Cheit||
Reading and Composition
"Rousseau described cities as 'the abyss of the human species,' and this conviction lives on in modern consciousness. But cities--both then and now--also represent the promise of diverse global community, innovation, and the ideals of human civilization. These varied, and often contradictory, notions of the city form the material for at least four centuries of artistic representation; from poems of the 18th-century to films of today, the city dominates as a subject and functions as an occasion to contemplate the meaning of modernity and civilization, as well as to weigh the consequences of industrialization.
In this course, we will explore diverse aspects of the 'city,' as both a real place where real experiences are constructed and as a concept into which various types of thinkers--from Swift to the creators of 'The Matrix'--pour their utopian fantasies and disillusionments alike. We will begin the course by reading maps of major cities and a sample of contemporary theories in Urban Studies. From there, we will read 'fictional' accounts of city experience in order to explore the more subjective and particular ways in which this larger historical experience is mediated through art. Among the questions that we will address (but won't, by any means, be limited to) are: How do urban spaces reflect or construct social experience? What challenges does the rise of the city present? How does the city change our means of understanding and, subsequently, representing the world that we live in? What is the city's relation to the past and future, and how do we imagine cities today?
This course satisfies the second half of the reading and composition requirement. Our investigation into city space will accompany intensive in-class work on improving your research and composition skills. You will be responsible for a total of 40 pages of writing during the course of the semester that will be divided up into shorter essays and drafts of various lengths. In addition to reviewing and refining the writing skills learned in R1A, we will focus on incorporating research successfully into argumentation. "