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Cities and Stories

ENGL 137.401
T 5:15-8:15pm

So much of what we know about cities comes from the stories we tell about them. This course takes the-city-in-stories as both our subject and our muse. We will work across genres and disciplines, reading a mix of fiction and nonfiction in which cities figure prominently, from Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities to Sarah Broom’s Yellow House. We’ll go from Mumbai, in Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers, to Oakland, in Tommy Orange’s There There. With each text, we’ll examine how the city is represented, including what and who we see and don’t see, and the role it plays in the narrative. We’ll also explore the author’s craft and write our own creative nonfiction about city streets and neighborhoods. The class will be part discussion-based seminar and part peer-review writing workshop. It is open to both creative writing and urban studies students excited to explore the intersections between our stories, our cities, and ourselves. This course is cross-listed with Urban Studies 350.

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