Slavic R5B, Section 101: Session D (July 3- August 11): Mapping Spaces, Mapping Texts

TuWTh 3-5:30, 187 Dwinelle. Instructor: Isobel Palmer.

Units: 4

All Reading and Composition courses must be taken for a letter grade in order to fulfill this requirement for the Bachelor’s Degree. This course satisfies the second half or the “B” portion of the Reading and Composition requirement.

This is a course about modern urban space—a central feature of our daily experience and identities, but rarely something we stop to think about. This course has been designed to give us an opportunity to do just that: to pause and think about the ways in which urban landscape structures our social and mental life, our habits and our time. What is the relationship between the physical city and the city of social interaction, memory, fantasy or desire—between urban and imaginary space? How do we experience space and relate to other people as we move through cities? And what kind of spaces do we occupy when we read about cities, or when we write about them?

The course begins in San Francisco, with Rebecca Solnit’s recent atlas, Infinite City. From unusual representations of an urban space we all know well, we’ll then move through a variety of cities around the globe. We’ll follow Crime and Punishment’s murderous Raskolnikov around St. Petersburg, take a bath in the Parisian crowd with Charles Baudelaire, experience life on a barge with Penelope Fitzgerald in post-war London, and look at early Soviet Moscow through Iury Olesha’s upside-down binoculars. As we learn how to read these texts critically and to write about them as scholars, we’ll also experiment creatively to think about how we ourselves might choose to represent the spaces we live in and our experience of urban life.

 Navigating through different centuries, genders, and social classes, novels, poems and films, this course offers a chance to reflect on the construction of urban space and the diverse nature of our experiences, in San Francisco and beyond.

Primary texts:

1. Maps/cities
Rebecca Solnit. Infinite City.
Italo Calvino. Invisible Cities.
Elizabeth Bishop. “The Map”.

2. Street/crowd
Nikolai Gogol, “Nevsky Prospect”
Edgar Allen Poe, “A Man of the Crowd”
Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment (selections),
Andrei Bely, Petersburg (selections)
Virginia Woolf, “Street Haunting”
Charles Baudelaire (selections)
Vladimir Mayakovsky (selections)
Aleksandr Blok (selections)
Alexander Hackenschmied. An Aimless Walk (film)
The London Perambulator (documentary)
Dziga Vertov. Man with a Movie Camera (film)

3. Everyday urban life
Iury Olesha. Envy.
Anna Akhmatova (selections).
Penelope Fitzgerald. Offshore
Wim Wenders. Alice in the Cities.

Prerequisites:  Successful completion of the “A” portion of the Reading & Composition requirement or its equivalent.  Students may not enroll in nor attend R1B/R5B courses without completing this prerequisite.