21L.488 | Spring 2018 | Undergraduate

Contemporary Literature: Street Haunting in the Global City


Creative Street Haunting Assignment


Due: Class 25

Complete a creative project in a media format of your choosing (possibilities include short story, journalistic essay or diary collection, film, photography collection or collage, map, etc.).

All projects must include a short written explanation of the critical lenses and concepts from class that have informed your aesthetic choices. Depending on the project, this explanation can be embedded in the creative piece itself or handed in as a separate response (if separate: approx 2 pages).


Some basic examples of “critical lenses connections”/explanatory account:

  • In class we discussed X, Y, and Z vantage points which are represented in the following ways…
  • Building on the idea of defamiliarization, I decided to…
  • My flaneur experiment was similar to that described by Baudelaire because…
  • These images raise problems concerning “the right to opacity”…
  • My short story is focalized through one main character…
  • My story uses synechdoche…


Consult past readings, class notes, and handouts. You can use critical lenses, direct quotations from primary texts, literary terminology, or questions raised in class. Come to final class prepared to share your project. This is not an official or graded presentation but a mandatory mode of class participation. Aside from the 2 page explanation of the critical lenses that inspired you, the creative choices are all yours.

Below I have listed some possible ideas I have in mind. Feel free to use any or to use these as a springboard. You might also want to do some preliminary city exploring with some of these approaches in mind before commiting to one.

  • Take images to combine with class textual quotations (either from critical or primary sources). Find creative ways to organize your pairings.
  • Explore Boston/Cambridge and then write a story set here, written from the perspective of one of our characters (such as Julius from Open City, Henry from Saturday, or Ifemelu from Americanah), or write the same short story/scene, from different perspectives and in different voices.
  • Pick a local place and explore its history. Ways of digging below the surface to discover its history might include talking to residents or experts, conducting research/reading old newspapers, reading plaques and inscriptions, analyzing architecture, etc. Or pick a place and write the fictionalized history behind it.
  • Attend a political event/meeting/protest/etc. Consider the ways that political and aesthetic problems intertwine, as discussed in class.
  • Explore local architecture and/or read about the history of local architecture. Or, visit city sites and features that we have seen throughout our literary cities, and compare/contrast.
  • Pick a place that you think encompasses what it might mean to call Boston/Cambridge a “literary city” or a “global city” and write up your findings and observations, including a discussion of how you define or understand the term(s).
  • Create an alternative kind of map or other visual representation for mapping the city or cities-within-the-city.
  • Visit the same location at different times and in different conditions and report your findings in a creative form of your choice.
  • Find a creative way to mix social media, digital media, virtual reality, and/or encounters with the “actual” city you explore.
  • Find creative ways to depict the same place through different “lenses” or “perspectives”, however you interpret those ideas.
  • Explore neighborhoods you have not been to, talk to new people, and use your observations in a creative format of your choice.
  • Pick a project from the City Lab and write a story that fills in the lived experience gap left open by a big data approach.
  • Write an analytical paper on Ben Lerner’s 10:04 or additional Amit Chaudhuri pieces. Use any of the previous prompts or propose an idea to me. Approx 5 pages.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2018
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments