English | Literatures in English 1900-Present
E304 | 2205 | Chang


11:15a-12:05p MWF (30) 3 cr.

TOPIC: IMAGINING AND CONTESTING THE NATION: RACE AND CLASS IN 20TH
CENTURY AMERICAN
CITIES



In this course, we examine how 20th century American cities, as
crossroads of race, class, gender and sexuality, influence
conceptions of self and group identity.  We will consider the city as
an emblem  or anti-emblem  of the nation, local spaces that embody
the shifting ideals of America as well as challenge those ideals by
marking the nation's failures.  To this end, we will focus on the
role of race and class in defining American selfhood and
collectivity.  Starting with an idyllic vision of a frontier city and
community in Meet Me in St. Louis, we will critically examine
national ideals.  What ideals are being         imagined?  What
interests are at stake in upholding them?  We will study a range of
artistic productions (literature, film, visual art, and music) with
close attention to the social, economic and political pressures under
which they are produced.  We will look at the different "Americas" 
often in crisis  imagined in Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San
Francisco and New York and examine how the art of these spaces
register accommodation and protest.  How are national ideals upheld
and obliquely or explicitly contradicted by the artistic work?  How
do conflicts in the city, as well as artistic interpretations of
them, contest, uphold, and transform fictions of the nation?
The      course will end with an examination of the "transnational"
city in order to explore how the recent attention to globalization or
a "borderless world" challenges as well as reinforces myths of
America.