Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 10 x 2 hour seminars. Discussion-based.


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment ESSAY 1: 2,500 WORDS  50%
Semester Assessment ESSAY 2: 2,500 WORDS  50%
Supplementary Assessment RESUBMIT FAILED ELEMENTS  Resubmit any failed elements and/or make good any missing elements. Where this involves re-submission of work, a new topic must be selected. 

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to:

1. Demonstrate a detailed knowledge of a range of texts drawn from the module;

2. Articulate this knowledge in the form of a reasoned critical analysis of particular texts;

3. Locate the texts studied in appropriate literary, historical, and/or cultural contexts;

4. Explain and engage with relevant aspects of recent critical debates about the texts studied;

5. Demonstrate developing skills in oral presentation, both individually and in small group presentations.


This module is designed for all 2nd/3rd year BA students in English/American Studies. It is an optional module within the portfolio of options available to students on the Department's various undergraduate degree schemes - including American Studies. The module investigates the representation of New York City in a selected body of modern and contemporary literature and examines the texts from a range of critical and theoretical perspectives.

Brief description

Few cities have inspired as much innovative writing as New York. Indeed, the literature of New York is extraordinary for both its diversity and volume. But why exactly has 'The Big Apple' had such a deep impact on the literary imagination? This module examines the representation of New York City in a selected body of modern and contemporary literature. In particular, the module will consider how writers as diverse as Henry James, Zora Neale Hurston, and Paul Auster have used the city to explore issues of gender, class, nation, and ethnicity. Theoretical ideas from a range of thinkers - including Walter Benjamin, Michel de Certeau, Lewis Mumford, and George Simmel - will be used to frame and inform our analysis of the texts.


_1 Introduction: Reading/Writing New York

_PART ONE: 1890-1940

_2 Old New York
Selected writings by Henry James, Edith Wharton, William Dean Howells, Edgar Allan Poe, Jacob Riis, and Walt Whitman, in Writing New York: A Literary Anthology

_3 The Ghetto
Abraham Cahan, Yekl

_4-5 The Modern City
John Dos Passos, Manhattan Transfer

_6 Harlem Renaissance
Selected writings by Zora Neale Hurston, Nella Larsen, James Weldon Johnson, Langston Hughes, and Ralph Ellison, in Writing New York: A Literary Anthology

_PART TWO: 1940-1990

_7 Meandering Manhattan
J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

_8 El Barrio
Piri Thomas, Down These Mean Streets

_9 Contemporary Bohemia
Tama Janowitz, Slaves of New York

_10 The Postmodern City
Paul Auster, City of Glass

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number n/a
Communication Written communication in extended essay
Improving own Learning and Performance Developing time/work management skills
Information Technology Using electronic research and bibliographic resources
Personal Development and Career planning n/a
Problem solving Formulating and developing an extended argument
Research skills Developing independent study
Subject Specific Skills n/a
Team work Group presentations (in seminar)


This module is at CQFW Level 6