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URBANST 27Q: The Detective and the City

This seminar is based on the idea that there are many urban literatures and that Urban Studies, as a broadly interdisciplinary field, needs to look at fiction, music, visual art, cinema, and other forms of expression beyond just the standard social sciences for evidence of the human experience of living in cities. We will analyze the social reality of several historic cities (London in the 1890s, San Francisco and Los Angeles in the 1920s and 30s, and Shanghai in the 1990s) through the prism of popular crime fiction featuring four great literary detectives (Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade, Roman Polanski's Jake Gittes, and Qiu Xiaolong's Chief Inspector Chen). As a student in this course, you will explore why crime fiction is so popular, why the fear of crime - or perhaps just a fascination with crime -- is so much a part of modern urban culture, and why the police detective and the private investigator have become iconic code heroes of popular cultur more »
This seminar is based on the idea that there are many urban literatures and that Urban Studies, as a broadly interdisciplinary field, needs to look at fiction, music, visual art, cinema, and other forms of expression beyond just the standard social sciences for evidence of the human experience of living in cities. We will analyze the social reality of several historic cities (London in the 1890s, San Francisco and Los Angeles in the 1920s and 30s, and Shanghai in the 1990s) through the prism of popular crime fiction featuring four great literary detectives (Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade, Roman Polanski's Jake Gittes, and Qiu Xiaolong's Chief Inspector Chen). As a student in this course, you will explore why crime fiction is so popular, why the fear of crime - or perhaps just a fascination with crime -- is so much a part of modern urban culture, and why the police detective and the private investigator have become iconic code heroes of popular culture You will participate in classroom discussions, write a final paper, and present your research on a subject of your own choice ¿ maybe one of the literary or cinematic detectives already mentioned, or perhaps another literary/cinematic detective of your own choosing, or even on one of today's related manifestations of the same impulse in popular literature or visual culture featuring superheroes, vampires, and the zombie apocalypse.
Terms: Aut | Units: 3 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II
Instructors: Stout, F. (PI)
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