Introducing vWNY




For many U.S. academics, Labor Day marks the end of summer: for my colleagues at NYU, tomorrow marks the beginning of the fall term. Today, therefore, seems like the right moment to announce Bryan’s and my new “course”: Virtual Writing New York, or vWNY for short.

I’m spending the academic year at NYU Abu Dhabi and Bryan is concentrating on other activities (including being Director of Undergraduate Studies), so our Writing New York course is on hiatus. But Bryan and I have always wondered what it might be like to teach that course over a full year, allowing ourselves the time to explore books currently on the syllabus in greater detail and to take a less hurried tour of the twentieth century by adding a few more titles.

vWNY is a step in that direction. It’s a thought experiment: Bryan and I are imaging what a year-long syllabus might look like for this year were we actually teaching Writing New York this year. We’ve put together a course schedule, and we’ll be writing blog posts that approximate the blog posts we would have written had we actually given the lectures that are listed on our virtual schedule.

So here’s the “syllabus” for the fall term. [Note that CCLNY stands for our Cambridge Companion to the Literature of New York; EAD stands for Early American Drama, edited by Jeffrey Richards.]

Wed. Sept. 7: Introduction

Mon. Sept. 12: E. B. White, Here is New York (Little Bookroom)
Wed. Sept. 14: Excerpts from Russell Shorto, The Island at the Center of the World (Vintage)

Mon. Sept. 19: Washington Irving, A History of New York (Penguin)
Wed. Sept 21: Irving (continued); Elizabeth L. Bradley, “Dutch New York from Irving to Wharton” [CCLNY]

Mon. Sept 26: Royall Tyler, The Contrast [EAD]; Washington Irving, “Jonathan Oldstyle Letters”
Wed. Sept 28: The Contrast (continued); Bryan Waterman, “The City on Stage” [CCLNY]

Mon. Oct. 3: George G. Foster, New York by Gas-Light (University of California Press)
Mon. Oct. 5: New York by Gas-Light (continued)

Mon. Oct. 10 – HOLIDAY
Wed. Oct. 12: “MIDTERM” Contest

Mon Oct. 17: Anna Cora Mowatt, Fashion [EAD]
Wed. Oct. 19: Benjamin Baker, Glance at New York in On Stage America: A Selection of Distinctly American Plays, ed. Walter J. Meserve.

Mon. Oct. 24: Selected Poems and Journalism by Walt Whitman; Cyrus Patell, “New York, 1819–61”
Wed. Oct. 26:  Whitman (continued); Thomas Bender, “New York as a Center of Difference”  in The Unfinished City: New York and the Metropolitan Idea (NYU Press)

Mon. Oct. 31: Melville, “Bartleby, the Scrivener” and Excerpts from Moby-Dick; Thomas Augst, “Melville, at Sea in the City” [CCLNY]
Wed. Nov. 2: Melville (continued)

Mon. Nov. 7: Theodore Winthrop, Cecil Dreeme
Wed. Nov. 9: Cecil Dreeme (continued)

Mon. Nov. 14: Horatio Alger, Ragged Dick (Norton Critical Edition)
Wed. Nov. 16: Ragged Dick (continued)

Mon. Nov. 21: Stephen Crane, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets (Bedford Cultural Editions); Jacob Riis, “The Problem of the Children” and “The Working Girls of New York,” in the Bedford Maggie, 128–132 and 202–207.
Wed. Nov. 23: Wed. Nov. 30: Maggie (continued)

Mon. Nov. 28: Henry James, Washington Square (Penguin)
Wed. Nov. 30: Washington Square (continued)

Mon. Dec. 5: Abraham Cahan, Yekl and the Imported Bridegroom (Dover)
Wed. Dec. 7: Yekl (continued); Eric Homberger, “City of Immigrants: Politics and the Popular Cultures of Tolerance” [CCLNY].

Mon. Dec. 12: Wharton, The Age of Innocence (Penguin)
Wed. Dec. 14: The Age of Innocence (continued); F. Scott Fitzgerald, “My Lost City”; Sarah Wilson, “Beaufort’s Bastards” [CCLNY]

Mon. Dec. 19: “Final Examination” Contest

Our Twitter feed will be using the hashtag #vWNY to refer to the “course.”

Please join us for our introductory blog post after Wednesday’s hypothetical opening lecture!