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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:

Wini Breines, “Introduction” Young, White, and Miserable: Growing Up in the Fifties (1992)
Tzvetan Todorov, The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre (1975)
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)
Sigmund Freud, “The Uncanny” (1919)
Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique (1963)

Term 2

Week 1: Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun (1959)
*Amiri Baraka "The Myth of a 'Negro Literature'" (1962)
*Nikki Giovanni and James Baldwin "A Dialogue" (pg 30-63 and pg 63-5, 1973)
*Ta-Nehisi Coates “The Case for Reparations” Atlantic (2014)

Suggested Reading:
*Beryl Sater “The Noose Around Black Chicago” Family Properties: Race, Real Estate, and the Exploitation of Black Urban America (2010)
*Michelle Wallace Black Macho and the Myth of the Black Superwoman (1978)

Week 2: Allen Ginsberg, 'Howl' (1956)

Secondary reading: Norman Mailer "The White Negro" (1957).
Abstract Expressionism (especially Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Helen Frankenthaler, Willem de Koonig, Mark Rothko, and Lee Krasner, but feel free to look at others)

Week 3: Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 (1965)
*Peter Gallison “War Against the Centre” (2001)
*Thomas Pynchon “Journey into the Mind of Watts” (1965)

Suggested Reading:
*Mike Davis City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles (1998)
*Guy Dubord Society of Spectacle (1967)
*David Harvey “Postmodernism in the City” The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change (1992)
*Fredric Jameson “Introduction” Postmodernism or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1982)
*Casey Shoop “Thomas Pynchon, Postmodernism, and the Rise of the New Right in California” Contemporary Literature (2012)


Week 4: Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony (1977)
Vine Deloria Jr. "Indians Today, the Real and the Unreal" Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto (1969)


Suggested Reading:
Leslie Marmon Silko, Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit (1997)
Helen May Dennis, Native American Literature: Towards a Spatialized Reading (2007)
Sean Kicummah Teuton, Red Land, Red Power: Grounding Knowledge in the American Indian Novel (2008)


Week 5: New York in the 1970s and 80s. Kathy Acker, New York City in 1979 (1979)

Author, academic, and party-thrower Tim Lawrence will be visiting campus this week, and he will lead some special seminars just for our module. For this reason, this week will be differently timetabled and special arrangements will be made. All the details will be put online nearer the time, and discussed in class.

Secondary readings and listenings: Tim Lawrence, "Life, Death, and the Hereafter" Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor, 1980-1983;

Play List
James Brown “Give It Up or Turnit a Loose” from the live album "Sex machine" (1970)
Loleatta Holloway “Hit and Run” 12” Walter Gibbons remix (1977)
Talking Heads “I Zimbra” (1979)
Dinosaur l “Go Bang” 12” Francois Kevorkian remix (1986)
Afrika Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force “Planet Rock” (1982)

Art
Jean-Michel Basquiat - watch this short piece from his Fun Gallery show in 1983

Keith Haring - have a browse through the Keith Haring Foundation, with artworks viewable by year:

Week 6: Reading week

Week 7:Sandra Cisneros, House on Mango Street (1984)
Combahanee River Collective Statement (1978)
Gloria Anzaldua and Cherrie Moraga, ed., The Bridge Called My Back (1981)
bell hooks, “Postmodern Blackness” Postmodern Culture (1991)

Week 8: Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho (1991)
Sasha Lilley, “On Neoliberalism: An Interview with David Harvey” MR Online (2016)

Suggested reading:
Kim Moody, From Welfare State to Real Estate: Regime Change in New York City, 1974 to the Present (2007)
Berthold Schoene, “Serial Masculinity: Psychopathology and Oedipal Violence in Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho”. MFS Modern Fiction Studies. 54.2 (2008): 378-397.
Leigh Clare LaBerge, “"The Men Who Make The Killings": American Psycho and the Genre of the Financial Autobiography” Scandals and Abstraction: Financial Fiction of the Long 1980s (2015)

Week 9: Cynthia Kadohata, In the Heart of the Valley of Love (1992)
*Lyrics and Music: Ice Cube “We Had to Tear This Motherfucker Up” (1992), NWA “Straight Outta Compton” (1998), Ice-T “Cop Killer” (1992), 2Pac "Holler If Ya Hear Me” (1993)
*Mike Davis “Who Killed LA? A Political Autopsy” (1993)

Suggested reading:
Jeff Chang, Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation (Picador 2005)
Joshua Clover, “Introduction” Riot Strike Riot: The New Era of Uprisings (2016)
Min Hyoung Song, “Introduction: When the Strange Erupts in Culture” Strange Future: Pessimism and the 1992 Los Angeles Riots (2005)

Week 10: Group wildcard...each seminar will be choosing their own reading this week. More details in class!