English R1A

Reading and Composition: The American City - From Segregation to Climate Change

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
3 Fall 2021 Beckett, Balthazar I.
MWF 11-12 55 Evans

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The American city is an incredibly complex and dynamic organism—and the subject of a great body of literature, both fiction and non-fiction. This course will trace and critically engage how American urban development has been written about from the late nineteenth century to today. We will follow how writers have addressed the dramatic changes that American urban spaces underwent from the progressive era, turn-of-the-century segregation, and the experience of the Great Migration to redlining, white flight, and suburbanization in the wake of the New Deal. Studying metropolitan areas across the nation—from New York City to the Bay Area and from Chicago to New Orleans—this course asks students to write critically about urban development from the battles over “urban renewal” and the anti-eviction campaigns of the Civil Rights era to the impact of 1970s neoliberal policies, the “war on drugs” and militarized policing, and the urban uprisings of the early 1990s. We will end this semester by studying how writers address the impact that hyper-gentrification and climate chaos (from disaster capitalism to grassroots organizing) have on American cities today. 

Over the course of the semester, we will develop critical thinking skills and learn to express our thoughts in argumentative writing.  Students will write and revise four short essays (a total of 32 pages), ranging from a close reading to a self-reflection and an exercise in literary scholarship.

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