(Fall 2013)


I imagine this course as a semester-length stroll through New York City. Along our stroll, we will meet the writers, rappers, activists, politicians, billionaires, computer programmers, philosophers, bartenders, and fellow travelers who have tried to rewrite the history of New York City to change its futures.

We will survey their desires to hold onto alternative, past, or lost New Yorks. From the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, we may read short stories and novels, listen to music, watch movies, explore public spaces, or wander the streets to learn about the evolution of New Yorkers’ trend-setting nostalgia.  Course novels may include Lush Life by Richard Price (head writer of The Wire) and Colson Whitehead’s zombie story Zone One. Each week will include complementary critical readings to help us reflect on the ways that we think about and experience urban spaces like New York. Students will learn about the cultural, political, and social histories of one of our country’s most dynamic cities; think about the relationship between media and politics; and contemplate our inheritances from the past in today’s changing cities.

Required Texts:

Cole, Teju. Open City. New York: Random House, 2012. Print.

Lee, Chang-Rae. Native Speaker. New York: Riverhead, 1996. Print.

Whitehead, Colson. Zone One. New York: Knopf Doubleday, 2012. Print.

Writing New York City. Ed. By Philip Lopate. New York: Library of American, 2008.


Student Prompt for Walking Tours of New York City and Instructions for ESRI StoryMaps


Week 1

Wed: Rewriting Our New York Cities

Frida: Onboarding

  • E.B. White, “Here is New York”
  • Paulo Freire, “Banking Concept of Education”

Week 2

Mon:  (no class)

Wed: City Spaces

  • Gouverneur Morris, “Remarks of the commissioners for laying out the streets and roads in the city of New York, 1811” (Sakai)
  • Henri Lefebvre, from The Production of Space
  • Explore the 1818 Randel maps online at  http://goo.gl/MvZ5J1

Fri: Reading & City Spaces

  • Continue with Lefebvre
  • “How to Read” (Sakai)

Week 3

Mon: Rights to the City, Crises in the City

  • Herman Melville, “Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street” (Sakai)
  • Fanny Fern, Selections from the New York Ledger (Sakai)
  • David Harvey, “Right to the City”

Wed: Audiences & the peer review workshop
Fri: Peer review workshop

Week 4

Mon: Research tools, tips, and tricks
Wed: Digital research & digital maps
Fri: The labor of writing and studying and rewriting

  • Write an informal response to the question: how, when, and where do you get your schoolwork done?

Week 5

Mon: How to get and keep your readers’ attentions, or Introductions

  • Daniel Kahneman, from Thinking, Fast and Slow

Wed: In-class working session on biographies and maps
Fri: Project kickoff: magazines and researched arguments

Week 6

Mon: Native Speaker (pages per day to be announced)

Wed: Native Speaker

Fri: Native Speaker

Week 7

Mon: Open City (pages per day to be announced)

  • While reading, keep a list of places mentioned in the text

Wed: Open City

Fri: Open City

  • Michel De Certeau, from The Practice of Everyday Life (Sakai)

Week 8

Mon: Zone One (pages per day to be announced)

  • While reading, keep a list of places mentioned in the text

Wed: Zone One

Fri: Zone One

Week 9

Mon: Writing with style

  • Colum McCann, “What Baseball Does to the Soul” (Sakai)
  • Eileen Myles, “An American Poem” (link via Sakai)

Wed: Peer review workshop

Fri: Catch our breath day.

Week 10

Mon: Write a research paper in 100 minutes or less!

  • Find, read, and bring to class a scholarly journal article about the New York City police department’s Stop and Frisk policy.

Wed: Write a research paper in 100 minutes or less! (cont’d)

Fri: Cont’d

Week 11

No class this week. All peer review groups will meet in my office

Week 12

Mon: The Ecstasy of Influences and Expulsions

  • Jonathan Lethem, “The Ecstasy of Influence” (Sakai)
  • Read the UD “Academic Honesty” policy statement
  • http://www.udel.edu/stuguide/13-14/code.html#honesty

Wed: Revision stations

  • Bring a copy of your most up-to-date draft, printed one-sided

Fri: Walking tour kickoff

  • Research paper final draft due to instructor

Week 13

Mon:  The High Line Project and architectures of New York

  • Rem Koolhaas, from Delirious New York (Sakai)
  • Jane Jacobs, from The Death and Life of Great American Cities (Sakai)

Wed: The History of Hip Hop in New York City

  • Listen to the album assigned to your group

Fri: Occupy Wall Street and Political Protests

  • David Graeber, “OWS rediscovers the radical imagination”
  • Matt Taibbi, “How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the OWS Protests”

 Week 14

Mon: Working session on walking tours

Wed-Fri: No class—Happy Thanksgiving! 

Week 15

Mon: Walking tour presentations

Wed: Walking tour presentations

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