Special Topics: Literary and Cinematic Cities
Breton, A.: Nadja
; Calvino, I.: Invisible Cities
; Ellison, R.: Invisible Man
; Joyce, J.: Dubliners
; Pynchon, T.: The Crying of Lot 49
; Woolf, V.: Mrs. Dalloway
(1927); Rear Window
(1954); Blade Runner
This course examines representations of the city in twentieth-century literature and film, asking how urban experience shapes modernist and postmodernist aesthetics. The course will examine the material conditions and demands of the city, but it will also consider the city as, in Italo CalvinoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s terms, Ã¢â‚¬Å“made of desires and fears,Ã¢â‚¬Â as complex, unstable sites of community and alienation, novel enticements and novel anxieties. In Invisible Cities, Calvino writes:
With cities it is as with dreams; everything imaginable can be dreamed, but even the most unexpected dream is a rebus that conceals a desire or its reverse, a fear. Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else.
Calvino suggests that the city, like a text, is a kind of representational riddle that invites interpretation or decoding. We will thus consider the way in which urban experience produces a particular kind of subject who must interpret the cityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s palimpsistic layers and create his or her place within its perspectival vicissitudes. Our texts take us into particular citiesÃ¢â‚¬â€Paris, London, Dublin, New York, and San FranciscoÃ¢â‚¬â€but the course is also, more generally, a consideration of the way in which oneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s relation to and experience of place shape subjectivity.
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