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    CO200 – The City vs. the Country: Literature of Nature & Urban Spaces

    The City vs. the Country investigates the conflict between nature and urban spaces through the study of literature. The class is taught at the Newberry Library in Chicago where students will able to further explore the topic via experiential learning.


    Professor of Comparative Literature, Associate Chair CGIJRS William Davis email

    "The City vs. the Country: Literature of Nature and Urban Spaces" Taught at the Newberry Library, Chicago. At least since Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1779) reinvented "nature" and denounced urbanism in the 18th century, there has been no shortage of literary texts that advocated "getting back to nature" - cities are crowded, dangerous, dirty, and kill the soul. Yet despite Rousseau and his aftermath, literature that celebrates urbanism has also flourished - cities are engaging, exciting, and inspire humans toward their greatest endeavors in art and science. We will engage this conflict through the examination of works from authors such as Rousseau, Wordsworth, Arthur Schnitzler, Rimbaud, Charles Beaudelaire, Virginia Woolf, Henry David Thoreau, and others. We will also analyze literature specifically focused on Chicago, including Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City (2003). Our classroom will be in the New Newberry Library and students will draw on the vast resources of the library to write their own research papers focusing on our topic of city vs. nature in literature since Rousseau. At the same time the city of Chicago will act as our alternate classroom with multiple field trips and assignments that require us to explore, engage, and analyze America's "second city," one of the most dynamic and compelling urban spaces in the world.