||This course will examine representations of the city in fiction and film, with particular emphasis on how these representations reflect and interpret the social realities and felt experience of urban life. As many cultural and social historians have shown, urbanization is an incredibly complex phenomenon that varies from one place and time to another. As a consequence there are almost as many kinds of cities as there are cities, each of which both invites and resists representation. To avoid getting lost in such a labyrinthine subject, we will focus our attention on cities which have been at the forefront of both urban development and generic innovations in fiction and film. These include Paris, Berlin, London, New York, L.A., and Shanghai.
Among the films will look at are Berlin: Symphony of a Great City; M; 42nd Street; Footlight Parade; 馬路天使; It’s a Wonderful Life; The Big Sleep; Blade Runner; Pretty, Dirty Things; and Lust, Caution. Among the texts we will read are Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Man of the Crowd,” Willa Cather’s “Paul’s Case,” Raymond Chandler’s “Take the Girl,” and excerpts from Conan Doyle’s Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie, Jean Rhys’s Left Bank Stories, Richard Wright’s Native Son, 張愛玲’s <流言>, Walter Benjamin’s Charles Baudelaire, Malcolm Miles’s City Cultures Reader, and Mark Shiel’s Screening the City.
As this is a 5000-level seminar, a portion of each class meeting will be devoted to helping students develop and revise their final project, which will be 10-15 page research paper that must be completed by the final week of the semester. Additional course requirements include strict attendance, a considerable amount of reading (both primary and secondary) and a number of film screenings to be held outside class time. It is recommended that students spend the winter break reading Jonathan Culler’s Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction and Timothy Corrigan’s A Short Guide to Writing About Film.