ENGL379K - New York City and the American Dream (20th Century to Present)
101 - TBA

This course examines New York City as a central setting and trope in literary texts concerned with the American Dream, focusing on the manifestations of that dream in the 20th and 21st centuries. As the setting for dramatic stories of immigrant success and failure and as a site replete with consumer and cultural fantasies, the city of these texts both disseminates and critiques the belief in that dream. After reading Horatio Alger's early account of success in the city, our examination will focus on New York City's literature after the consolidation of the boroughs in 1898, taking into account resulting changes in the city's infrastructure, as well as demographic shifts. We also will consider New York City‘s central role in U.S. media culture. How does New York‘s dominant place in the publishing industry (and in television) tie in with images of the city as a site to be celebrated or reviled? The list of possible course texts is long, but it includes writings by Horatio Alger (Ragged Dick), Willa Cather (Coming, Aphrodite!), Jesus Colon (A Puerto Rican in New York), Truman Capote (Breakfast at Tiffany’s), James Baldwin (Going to Meet the Man), Edward Albee (Zoo Story), Tony Kushner (Angels in America), and Michael Chabon (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay).

Repeatable to 9 credits if content differs.


Two lower-level English courses, at least one in literature; or permission of department.