Instructor: Sandman TR 2:00pm – 3:20pm
Throughout American history—and today, as evidenced by the country’s political divide—the rural and urban have frequently come into conflict. This course will examine a wide range of American literary and pop-cultural texts in which country and city face off. Sometimes the collision is violent, as in James Dickey’s Deliverance (1970), in which four city men head off on a weekend canoe trip and encounter vicious mountain men. Sometimes the boundary-crossing is idyllic, as in Jean Craighead George’s classic young adult novel My Side of the Mountain (1959), in which a “young Thoreau” from the city flees to the mountains and lives in a hollowed-out tree. In reading these and other works—travel narratives, diaries, adventure stories, and early examples of realism—we will explore similarities and differences between narratives of migration to the city and narratives of escape to the wilderness, and we will examine how the power dynamics between city and country shift through American history and into the present.