Primary Course Texts

The readings in this seminar are not geared to providing a general history or theory of cities. Our focus will be on selected readings that are, for the most part, outstanding prose on cities—many offer fresh insight on perennial problems; most are models you’ll want to read and reread. (My approach means you will miss important thinkers on “the city,” but the consolation is that you will discover lovely voices you wouldn’t have thought to listen for). Along the course of our explorations, we’ll discuss ideas that are execrable or laughable, not to scorn or mock others—after all, we all have ideas that we’ll one day laugh or cringe at—but to get a firmer grasp on understanding cities.

Required Texts

Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd (2013). Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction. Random House. ISBN: 9780812982152.

John McPhee (2018). Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN: 9780374537975.

Vivian Gornick (2002). The Situation and the Story: The Art of Personal Narrative. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN: 9780374528584.

Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro, eds. (2016). Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas. University of California Press. ISBN: 9780520285958.

Suketu Mehta (2005). Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found. Vintage Books. ISBN: 9780375703409.

David Ulin (2015). Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles. University of California Press. ISBN: 9780520273726.

Mohsin Hamid (2018). Exit West. Moshin Hamid  ISBN: 9780735212206.

John Freeman, ed. (2017). Tales of Two Americas: Stories of Inequality in a Divided Nation. Penguin Books. ISBN: 9780143131038.

Edward P. Jones (2012). Lost in the City, 20th Anniversary Edition. Amistad Press. ISBN: 9780062193216.

Claudia Rankine (2014). Citizen: An American Lyric. Graywolf Press. ISBN: 9781555976903.

Layli Long Soldier (2017). Whereas. Graywolf Press. ISBN: 9781555977672.

Italo Calvino (1978). Invisible Cities. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. ISBN: 9780156453806.

The Meaning of Cities”—Hedgehog Review, Summer 2017 issue

Writing, rewriting, revision, reading, writing writing writing. And then more revision. That’s a good way to think of this class. Fine reference books on writing that are helpful, but not necessary, for this class, but that will be of great benefit if they are within close reach:

The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition (2017). University of Chicago Press. ISBN: 9780226287058.

Bryan A. Garner (2016). Garner’s Modern English Usage, 4th Edition. Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780190491482.

-————– (2016). The Chicago Guide to Grammar, Usage, and Punctuation. University of Chicago Press. ISBN: 9780226188850.

Christine A. Lindberg et al. (2012).Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus, 3rd Edition. Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780199829927.

It would help to also have these nearby, to be dipped into time and again until their principles are absorbed:

Susan Bell (2008). The Artful Edit: On the Practice of Editing Yourself. W. W. Norton. ISBN: 9780393332179.

Brooke Borel (2016). The Chicago Guide to Fact-Checking. University of Chicago Press. ISBN: 9780226290935.

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