AMST 282 Fall 2012 The Ultimate City: Immigrant New York

Cross Listed as RUSS282, COMP282
New York is a city that stands apart from the Old World just as it does from the rest of America. As Michel de Certeau put it, it is also a city that "has never learned the art of growing old by playing on all its pasts." And yet its air is thick with history, whose course has always been largely defined by its ever growing immigrant population. This seminar is a journey through more than a century of New York's immigrant culture. It is also a journey across various genres and creative media that have shaped New York's urban culture and myths. We will take as a case study the East European ways of navigating the city, but will also explore the "mappings" of the American metropolis across generations of writers of other ethno-linguistic and cultural backgrounds. We will delve into the gigantic repository of urban impressions that New York imposes upon new arrivals and, through a set of mythopoetic topoi that it generates, try to outline its place in the twentieth-century literary imagination. Topics of discussion will include, though will not be limited to, New York as the gate to the New World, an imagined space and a mental construct, the capitalist "jungle" and intersection of the consumerist and exquisite cultures, an "alternative" America and a version of the Jewish shtetl, a city "driven" by taxicabs and the subway, etc. A special session will be devoted to the artistic representations of 9/11 across immigrant cultures. Primary and secondary readings will be drawn from a variety of authors, including Jean Baudrillard, Michel de Certeau, Maxim Gorky, Federico Garcia Lorca, Franz Kafka, Sholem Aleichem, E.B. White, Paul Auster, Sergei Dovlatov, Junot Diaz and others; screenings will include films by Charlie Chaplin, Jim Jarmusch, Spike Lee, Martin Scorsese, Joan Micklin Silver, etc. Logistics permitting, we will take a field trip to Ellis Island and New York's Tenement Museum, as well as go on a tour of the city?s historic neighborhoods.
Class Format: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: class attendance & participation, several film screenings, one overnight field trip, short informal wkly reading responses, one presentation (15-20 minutes), & a 10- to 12-page term paper
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Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preference: students majoring in comparative Literature, Literary Studies, American Studies or Russian
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Distribution Notes: meets Division 1 requirement if registration is under ENGL or RUSS; meets Division 2 requirement if registration is under AMST
Divisional Attributes: Division II
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Enrollment Limit: 20
Expected Enrollment: 15
Class Number: 1842
AMST282-01(F) SEM The Ultimate City:Immigrant NY Division 2: Social Studies Yakov L. Klots
MR 1:10 PM-2:25 PM Hollander 241 1842
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