Module Identifier EN38020  
Academic Year 2007/2008  
Co-ordinator To Be Arranged  
Semester Intended for use in future years  
Next year offered N/A  
Next semester offered N/A  
Course delivery Seminars / Tutorials   10 x 2 hour seminars. Discussion-based.  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
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.100%

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

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

Reading Lists

** Should Be Purchased
Abraham Cahan (1979) Yekl and Other Stories of the New York Ghetto Dover Publications 0486224279
Don DeLillo (2003) Cosmopolis Picador 0330412744
J. D. Salinger (1994) The Catcher in the Rye Penguin 014023750X
John Dos Passos (2000) Manhattan Transfer Penguin Modern Classics 0141184485
Paul Auster (1988) The New York Trilogy Faber and Faber 0571152236
Piri Thomas (1997) Down These Mean Streets Vintage Books 0679781420
** Recommended Background
David Ward and Olivier Zunz (eds.) (1992) The Landscape of Modernity: New York City 1900-1940 Johns Hopkins UP
Kenneth T. Jackson (ed.) (1995) The Encyclopedia of New York City Yale UP
Peter Brooker (1996) New York Fictions: Modernity, Postmodernism, The New Modern Longman
Philip Kasinitz (ed.) (1995) Metropolis: Center and Symbol of Our Times NYU Press
Richard T. LeGates and Frederic Stout (eds.) (1996) The City Reader Routledge
Shaun O'Connell (1995) Remarkable, Unspeakable New York: A Literary History Beacon Press
Thomas Bender (2002) The Unfinished City: New York and the Metropolitan Idea The New Press
William B. Scott and Peter M. Rutkoff (1999) New York Modern Johns Hopkins UP


This module is at CQFW Level 6