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Syllabus 2018-19

Click here to view the reading list at the library

Term 1

Week 1: Introduction. Reading can be downloaded here: Pauline Hopkins, 'Talma Gordon' (1900)

Week 2: Willa Cather, My Antonia (1918)

Secondary readings:

Fredrick Jackson Turner “The Significance of the Frontier in American History” (1893)
Christine Bold, “The Frontier Club Western: An Introduction” The Frontier Club: Popular Westerns and Cultural Power, 1880-1924" (2013)
Annette Kolodny, The Land Before Her: Fantasy and Experience of the American Frontiers, 1630-1860 (1984)
Anne McClintock, “‘No Longer in a Future Heaven’: Gender, Race and Nationalism.” Dangerous Liaisons: Gender, Nation, & Postcolonial Perspectives (1997)
Richard Slotkin, Regeneration Through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier, 1600–1860 (1973)

Week 3: Modernism/Modernity. Start John Dos Passos, Manhattan Transfer (1925).

Secondary reading:
Georg Simmel “The Metropolis and Mental Life” (1903)

Albert Gleizes and Jean Metzinger, “Du ‘cubisme’” (1912)
Martino Stierli, Montage and the Metropolis: Architecture, Modernity, and the Representation of Space (2018)
Hal Foster “The ‘Primitive’ Unconscious of Modern Art”, October 34 (1985): 45-70.
Michael Denning “From the Cubist Barricades” The Cultural Front: The Laboring of American Culture in the Twentieth Century (1997)

Weeks 4 and 5: John Dos Passos, Manhattan Transfer (1925) / Library field trip (on campus). Which week you'll be doing which will depend on who your tutor is; we'll give you more information in week 1.

Secondary readings:
Siegfried Kracauer “Mass Ornament” (1927)
Christine Stansell "Bohemian Beginnings in the 1890s" American Moderns: Bohemian New York and the Creation of a New Century (2009)

Rita Felski The Gender of Modernity (1995)

The handout from the week in the library, with details of archives and resources for American studies, can be downloaded here. 


Week 6: Reading week

Week 7: Nella Larsen, Passing (1929)

Secondary readings:

Kevin Gaines. “Introduction” Uplifiting the Race: Black Leadership, Politics, and Culture in the Twentieth Century (1996)
WEB DuBois. “Our Spiritual Strivings” (1903) The Problem of the Color Line at the Turn of the Twentieth Century: The Essential Early Essays (2015)
Fiona I B Ngõ. Imperial Blues: Geographies of Race and Sex in Jazz Age New York (2014)
Hazel Carby. “The Quicksands of Representation” Reconstructing Womanhood: The Emergence of the Afro-American Woman Novelist (1987)
Shane Vogel The Scene of Harlem Cabaret: Race, Sexuality, Performance (2009)

Week 8: William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying (1930)

Secondary readings:

Southern Agrarians, I’ll Take My Stand (1930)
Walter Benjamin, “The Mississippi Flood of 1927” in Radio Benjamin (2014)
Susan Scott Parrish, “As I Lay Dying and the Modern Aesthetics of the Ecological Crisis” The New Cambridge Companion to William Faulkner. Ed. John T Matthews (2015)

Week 9: Raymond Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely (1940)

Secondary readings:

Mike Davis, “Sunshine or Noir” City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles (1990)
Siegfried Kracauer, “Hollywood’s Terror Films: Do They Reflect an American State of Mind?” New German Critique 89 (1946)
Sean McCann, Gumshoe America: Hard-Boiled Crime Fiction and the Rise and Fall of New Deal Liberalism (2000)
Eric Avila, “The Spectacle of Urban Blight: Hollywood’s Rendition of a Black Los Angeles” Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight (2004)
Edward Dimendberg, Film Noir and the Spaces of Modernity (2004)
Fredric Jameson, Raymond Chandler: The Detections of Totality (2016)

Week 10: Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House (1959)

Secondary readings:

Sigmund Freud, “The Uncanny” (1919)
Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique (1963)
Tzvetan Todorov, The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre (1975)
Wini Breines, “Introduction” Young, White, and Miserable: Growing Up in the Fifties (1992)
Elaine Tyler May, “Introduction” Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era (1998)
Jason Stevens, ‘Locating the Enigma of Shirley Jackson’ in God-Fearing and Free: A Spiritual History of America’s Cold War (2010)

Term 2

Week 1: Loraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun (1959)

Week 2: The Avant Gardes. Allen Ginsberg, Howl (1956). Secondary reading: Norman Mailer "The White Negro" (1957). Abstract Expressionism (especially Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Helen Frankenthel, Willem de Koonig, Mark Rothko, and Lee Krasner); Amiri Baraka and the Black Arts Movement.

Week 3: Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 (1965)

Week 4: Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony (1977)

Week 5: New York in the 1970s. **Tim Lawrence will be visiting campus and this week's seminars will be differently timetabled. Special arrangements will be made and details will be given in class.** Kathy Acker, 'New York City in 1979' (1979). Secondary reading: Tim Lawrence, 'Life, Death, and the Hereafter'. Music and painting, TBA.

Week 6: Reading week

Week 7: Sandra Cisneros, House on Mango Street (1984)

Week 8: Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho (1991)

Week 9: Cynthia Kadohata, In the Heart of the Valley of Love (1992)

Week 10: TBD in class