With registration deadlines approaching, it’s time to order books for next semester, which will mark (if I’m counting right) the fifth time Cyrus and I have taught Writing New York together since we first developed the class in 2003.
The course consists of two lively, media-heavy lectures a week and one recitation section in which students discuss the week’s reading in smaller groups. We generally take turns delivering the lectures, taking a week or two at a time then trading off with the team-teacher. We begin by dealing primarily with prose fiction, poetry, and drama, but in the twentieth-century portions of the course bring in popular music, film, and graphic novels as well. Yes, this is the course where you get to read Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and listen to the Velvet Underground for college credit. (Of course, you’ll walk away able to place them in historical and cultural context along with a lot of other things — some of them more high-brow.)
Here’s how we’ve described the course for several years running on the syllabus: “This course examines the evolution of New York City as a literary construct as well as the city