ENGL327 - The Suburbs in American Literature and Film

Explores through written expression and through cinema the diverse and changing world of US suburbia. Premised on two arguments: (1) the suburbs embody many of the contours and contradictions of American life; and (2) the suburbs are far more racially, ethnically, culturally, sexually, economically diverse than mass media suggests. Investigation via prose, poetry, drama, and cinema, as well as secondary sources in sociology, women's studies, ethnic studies, history, cultural studies, psychology, anthropology, and the history of science and technology.

This is an interdisciplinary course that explores the complex and changing world of the American suburbs. When most people think of suburbia, they have in mind the middle-class, single-family neighborhoods depicted in films like "The Truman Show” or in TV shows like “Leave it to Beaver” or “Fresh Off the Boat.” These mostly white "bedroom suburbs” are only a part of the story, though. By reading prose, poetry, and drama, and by watching films with a critical eye, students will leave English 327 with a fuller understanding of the suburbs--past, present, and future. Also included on the syllabus are secondary sources from sociology, women’s studies, ethnic studies, history, and geography. Grades will be based on quizzes, short response papers, an annotated bibliography, a capstone project, and a final exam.