The Textual City: London and Philadelphia

from the Great Fire to the Present


Prof. Steve Newman
Temple University

Description and Class Guidelines
This class is designed to introduce us to a set of questions surrounding the representation of the city, among them: How has the city been represented over time? What have been the motives behind and the effects of those representations? How might the city have been represented and lived differently? Although we will be dealing almost exclusively with literary rather than pictorial texts, the map will be our central metaphor, for maps are at once ways of reflecting the world, bringing it to consciousness, and shaping it, three actions also characteristic of literary texts. Our central case studies will be London and Philadelphia from c. 1660 to the present—two very different cities that themselves change remarkably over these centuries. Yet, as we will see, they share some fundamental similarities, brought to light by authors as diverse as Daniel Defoe, William Blake, Sonia Sanchez, and John Edgar Wideman.

But the borders of our inquiry will not end with the classroom. By engaging in service-learning—both teaching and learning from fellow Philadelphians—we will seek to forge intellectual and material links between the struggles of Thomas DeQuincey on the streets of London and the struggles of immigrant elders, between the persistence of Benjamin Franklin and the persistence of adults new to literacy and between the ability of Hanif Kureishi to call beauty out of the racial strife of contemporary London and the same ability exhibited by those involved in the Village of the Arts and Humanities.

Assignments and Grading
The first paper will be a combination of field study and literary analysis. In an essay of 4-6 pp., you will combine a close reading of one of the texts from our first weeks with a ‘mapping’ of a Philadelphia site (a list of potential sites will be made available).

The most unusual aspect of the course (and, I hope, a highly rewarding one) is the service-learning component. As soon as possible, you will be matched up with one of three sites and begin the necessary training (this will vary from site to site). Then, you will be spending 3-4 hours a week at each site. To acknowledge the extra work this will involve, our class will not meet on Fridays. This does not mean that you have to do your service on Fridays.


Your service work will provide the inspiration for a journal that you’ll be keeping throughout the course, which you will be posting weekly to the website. It will be an opportunity for you to reflect on your week’s work and to connect it with the other texts we will be reading.

The journal should also provide material for your second paper—an essay of 5-7 pp. which will ask you to compare and contrast the cityscape of Philadelphia with the literary representations of London we will focus on in the middle weeks of the course.

Finally, the journal should help spur you to a final project, combining personal reflection on your service learning and a literary analysis of the texts on contemporary Philadelphia found in our concluding unit. There were also be an opportunity to integrate video, audio, and other media, if your experience and aptitudes carry you that way. But the project will involve serious analytical work.

The assignments will be weighed as follows:
Paper 1: 15%
Paper 2: 25%
Final Project: 35%
Journal: 15%
Class Participation: 10%

You can earn as many as 3 extra points peer reviewing the first two papers.

Papers will be graded numerically, as follows:
100-90 A 89-80 B 79-70 C 69-60 D 59- F

Pluses are given for the highest 3 numbers in a series (e. g., a B+ for 87-89) and minuses for the lowest (70-72 is a C-).

For every class day late, a paper will lose 10 points.

You cannot pass this class if you do not hand in the two papers and the final project

Paper Format:
Papers must be double-spaced, in 12-point font with 1” margins top and bottom and 1.25” margins left and right.

Plagiarism:
Plagiarism is a serious violation of academic integrity, and even if done unintentionally, can result in penalties ranging from failing the paper in question to failing the course to suspension from the university. If you have any questions about what constitutes plagiarism, please do not hesitate to ask.


Attendance: Since this class depends upon discussion and, to some degree, group work, it is essential that you show up. Any more than 10 unexcused absences means that you cannot receive higher than a C+ in the class (in the unlikely event that a person so frequently absent would do better than a C on essays, etc). Your class participation grade will also drop 10 points for every 3 unexcused absences beyond 3—so 4 absences=-10 points, 7=-20 points, and so on.

Some examples of an excused absence along with my sincere hope none of these cases applies to you this semester::
--a sickness severe enough to prevent you from attending class.
--a serious sickness suffered by a child or other person for whom you are the primary caregiver
--a family tragedy (death, serious accident)

Some examples of an unexcused absence:
--work schedule
--traffic
--an appointment with an advisor
--a doctor’s appointment, except in case of emergency

If you are not sure what category your absence falls into or have concerns about this policy, please let me know.

Learning Disabilities and Psychological Difficulties
Please let me know if you have learning disabilities and/or psychological difficulties that might affect your class performance. I know it can be hard to share this information, but doing so would be a great help to both of us.

Class Protocol: In order for this class to function properly, we need to treat each other respectfully. Here are a few guidelines to that end. They may seem mere common sense, but my years as a teacher have taught me that they bear repeating:
¾ Show up on time so that you don’t disrupt class discussion, But I’d rather you come late than not come at all.
— If you are late, take your seat quietly.
¾ Those with cell phones should switch them into vibrate mode if they can. If you receive a call that you feel obliged to take, exit class quietly.
¾ When you eat or drink in class, clean up after yourself.
¾ Listen attentively to what I and your classmates have to say.
— Be careful of dominating discussion.
— Avoid private discussions with friends.
— Don’t laugh at what seems to you a stupid question, especially since you may be guilty of a similar ‘offense’ some day.
— If you are having a serious difficulty with a member of the class, please let me know.
— Be charitable in your responses to others. This does not mean that you should stifle criticisms of what your classmates or I have contributed, which, when clearly and respectfully put forth, are generally the seed of real interchange.


Required Texts:
Elijah Anderson, Code of the Street, (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2000); 0393320782
Hanif Kureishi, My Beautiful Launderette and Others (London: Faber & Faber, 1997); 0571177387
Roy Porter, London: A Social History (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1998); 0674538390
Billy G. Smith, ed. Life in Early Philadelphia (University Park: Pennsylvania State UP, 1995); 0271014555
Sam Bass Warner, Jr., The Private City (Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 1987); 0812212436
John Edgar Wideman, Philadelphia Fire (New York: Vintage Books, 1991); 0679736506
Coursepacket (P)

Schedule of Readings
N. B. Readings are subject to change; they almost certainly will.

W 9/4 Introduction: Mapping the City

F 9/6 Some Views of the City (all P)
Michel De Certeau, from The Practice of Everyday Life
Raymond Williams, from The Country and The City
Walter Benjamin, from One Way Street

M 9/9 Some Views Closer to Home (all P)
Jane Jacobs, from The Death and Life of Great Cities
W. E. B. DuBois, from The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study
Elijah Anderson, from The Code of the Street

Visit from Liz Hayden, SHINE

W 9/11 Restoration and Eighteenth Century London: Plague, Fire, and Rebirth
Porter, ch. 5
Daniel Defoe, from Journal of the Plague Year (P)
Samuel Pepys, from The Diary (P)
Joseph Addison and Richard Steele, Tatler 1; Spectator 1, 2, 10, 454 (P)


F 9/13 18th C. London Day 2: Mock Maps
Porter, ch. 6
John Gay, from Trivia (P)
Jonathan Swift, “A Description of the Morning”; “A Description of a City Shower” (P)
Mary Wortley Montagu, “Tuesday: St. James’ Coffee House”; “Saturday: The Small-Pox” (P)
Deadline for students to pick a service-learning site

M 9/16 18th C. London Day 3: Commerce, Conversation, and Ambivalence
Porter, ch. 7
Steele, Tatler 25; Addison, Spectator 69 (P)
Ned Ward, “The Royal Exchange,” from The London Spy (P)
Samuel Johnson, Adventurer no. 67 (“On the Trades of London”) and London (P)

Last day to drop
Guidelines for Paper 1 Distributed

W 9/18 Intro. to 18th c. Philadelphia, Day 1
Warner, Chapter 1
Smith, pp. 3-24

F 9/20 Intro. to 18th c. Philadelphia, Day 2
Self-directed fieldtrip

M 9/23 Founding Father (all P)
Benjamin Franklin, from the Autobiography (part 1)
Franklin, short items from The Pennsylvania Gazette
Franklin, “Rules for a Club in Philadelphia”

W 9/25 Founding Father (all P)
Franklin, from The Autobiography (parts 2 and 3)
Phillip Freneau, from “Tomo Cheeki: The Creek Indian in Philadelphia”

F 9/27 Service Learning (hereafter, SL)

M 9/30 Other Voices in 18th c. Philly: The Poor and the Fugitive
Smith, pp. 30-49, 87-99 and advertisements #22, 30, 48, 53, and 56
Paper 1 Due

W 10/2 Other Voices in 18th c. Philadelphia: Women at Work
Smith, pp. 131-74

F 10/4 SL

M 10/7 London in the Romantic Era, Day 1
Porter, ch. 8
William Blake, “London”; “The Chimney Sweeper” (Innocence and Experience); “Holy Thursday” (Innocence and Experience) and brief selections from Milton and Jerusalem (P)

W 10/9 London in the Romantic Era, Day 2 (all P)
William Wordsworth, “Sonnet Composed on Westminster Bridge”; from The Prelude
Thomas DeQuincey, from Confessions of an English Opium-Eater

F 10/11 SL

M 10/14 London in the 20th Century: The Empire Strikes Back
Porter, Chapters 15 and 16
Kureishi, My Beautiful Laundrette (Screening in Class)

W 10/16
Kureishi, My Beautiful Laundrette (Screening in Class)
Paper 2 assigned

F 10/18 SL

M 10/21
Discussion of My Beautiful Laundrette and Kureishi, “The Rainbow Sign”

W 10/23 Other Contemporary London Voices
from The Federation of Worker Writers and Community Publishers, Once I Was a Washing Machine (P)

F 10/25 SL

M 10/28
Porter, ch. 17
from Once I Was a Washing Machine (P)
Paper 2 due

W 10/30
Iain Sinclair, from Lights Out for the Territory (P)

F 11/1 SL


M 11/4 The Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793
From J. H. Powell, Bring Out Your Dead (P)
from Mathew Carey, A Short Account of the Malignant Fever lately Prevalent in Philadelphia (P)
from Absalom Jones and Richard Allen, A Narrative of the Proceedings of the Black People During the Late Awful Calamity (P)


W 11/6 The Yellow Fever Through Contemporary Eyes
John Edgar Wideman, “Fever” (P)

F 11/8 SL

M 11/11 Philadelphia Explodes: Two Histories
DuBois, The Philadelphia Negro, 83-96, 322-31, 385-97 (P)
Warner, Chapters 4, 7-10

W 11/13 Philadelphia Fire: The MOVE Debacle (P)
from The Report of ThePhiladelphia Special Investigation Commission
The Bombing of Osage Avenue (video)
Sue Wells, “Auditing the Meaning of the MOVE Report”


F 11/15 SL

M 11/18 A Novelist’s View of the City, day 1
Wideman, Philadelphia Fire, pp.1-49

W 11/20 A Novelist’s View, day 2
Philadelphia Fire, pp. 49-94

F 11/22 SL

M 11/25 A Novelist’s View, day 3
Philadelphia Fire, pp. 97-151
Last day to withdraw

W 11/27 A Novelist’s View, day 4
Philadelphia Fire, pp. 155-99

F 11/29 Thanksgiving—no class

M 12/2 A Sociologist’s View of the City, day 1
Anderson, Code of the Street, chs. 1-4

W 12/4 A Sociologist’s View, Day 2
Anderson, Code of the Street, chs. 5-7, pp.323-25

F 12/6 SL

M 12/9 Poets Map the City, Day 1
Sonia Sanchez, “Haiku,” “Song,” “Love Song for Tupac,” “Love Conversation,” “Poem for Some Women,” “This is Not a Small Voice,” “Elegy for MOVE and Philadelphia,” “Philadelphia: Spring, 1985” (P)

W 12/11 Poets Speak the City, Day 2 (P)
Major Jackson, from Leaving Saturn
Supplementary: Nathaniel Popkin, from Song of the City