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Study of a Theme: Philadelphia in Literature and Film

ENGL 0040.910
TR 5:15-7:15pm

What defines the culture of Philadelphia? The nation’s first capital, Philadelphia should be seen as a founding center not only of American democracy but also of American literature. Home to major early American writers, including Benjamin Franklin, Philadelphia was also home to many twentieth-century writers and artists who balanced popular appeal and political awareness. In this course, we will read literary texts and watch films as a way to consider change and continuity in Philadelphia’s culture. How do the energies and ideals of Revolutionary-era politics influence the city’s later writers and artists? Has the popularity of Philadelphia’s culture had more to do with democratic participation or the mass appeal of cheesesteaks and the Rocky movie franchise? And to what extent, and for whom, has the City of Brotherly Love lived up to its name? We will read texts by and about Black Philadelphians and other people of color to explore how political ideals associated with the nation’s founding were contested and expanded in the city throughout the twentieth century.

English Major Requirements
  • Sector 2 Difference and Diaspora (AEDD)
  • Sector 6 20th & 21st Centuries (AE20)
English Concentration Attributes
  • 20th-21st Century Concentration (AE21)
College Attributes
  • Sector III: Arts & Letters (AUAL)
  • Foundational Approach: Cultural Diversity in US (AUCD)