City Lit: Between Utopia & Dystopia, Design & Occupation

A seminar designed by Jennifer Scappettone and led during Winter 2017 at the University of Chicago

Tumblr site: https://cityutopiadystopia.tumblr.com/

This course will explore the material repercussions of built, neglected, and mythologized environments on those who imagine and inhabit them, and the way the literary arts contribute to their shape. We will place the literature of the metropolis into dialogue with the writings and plans of architects and urbanists on the one hand, and activist/occupants on the other. We will study the creation (and sporadic dismantling) of the city from the perspective of its builders and inhabitants—moving swiftly from the nineteenth-century flaneur through Situationism, to the utopian schemes and conceptual architectures of the ‘60s and 70s and Occupy movements. A range of cities, visible and invisible, will be under consideration, with Chicago as our immediate case study. In tandem with the reading of literary texts by authors ranging from Djuna Barnes and Virginia Woolf through Italo Calvino and Anne Boyer, we will engage as time allows with architectural history and theory, encountering works by figures such as Augustus Pugin, John Ruskin, Daniel Burnham, Le Corbusier, Superstudio, and Keller Easterling.

 

Books available for purchase at Seminary Co-Op:

Upton Sinclair, The Jungle (1906)

Thomas Mann, Death in Venice (1912)

Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway (1925)

Djuna Barnes, Nightwood (1936)

Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities (1972)

Gwendolyn Brooks, The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks (1945-2003)

Bhanu Kapil, Ban en Banlieue (2015)

David Buuck, SITE CITE CITY (2015)

 

Models for atlas entries: recommended purchase, but on reserve:

Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly Schapiro, eds., Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas

Rebecca Solnit, ed., Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas

Rebecca Solnit and Rebecca Snedeker, eds., Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas metropolismachine


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