Courses: Borders, Walls and Bridges: Cultural Approaches to Divided Cities (WRPRH160A01)

Fall 2013

Urban spaces are sites of dynamic connection, but may also be defined by their established boundaries. Walls and fences are just some of the forms of demarcation; legacies of inequality also forcefully structure cities. From Berlin to Birmingham, modern history is rife with examples of urban segregation that is both architecturally built and socially inscribed. The daily life of a city includes zones of separation influenced by race, gender, sexuality, and class, while interaction across and within transnational cultural spaces remaps our understandings of global borders. Further, the expanding prison industrial complex is another prominent example of internal division in which narratives of freedom and repression are jointly expressed. But even with histories of struggle, cities continue to be ideal locales from which to transform communities, where individuals can work across lines of difference and pursue collective grassroots projects. Digital tools designed for cityscapes also offer new ways to explore and revise legacies of division. This writing course will approach the topic of divided cities through a range of interdisciplinary cultural approaches and comparative 20th- and 21st-century case studies. Our course readings include selections from such works as Carl Nightengale’s Segregation: A World History of Divided Cities, Teresa Caldeira’s City of Walls, Ruth Gilmore’s Golden Gulag, Michael Katz’s Why Don’t American Cities Burn, and Peter Schneider’s Wall Jumper. In addition to regular writing assignments, our class will take several class field trips to sites in Philadelphia, with the city serving as one of our primary sources for this course.

Prerequisites: Open only to First-Year students as assigned by the Director of College Writing.

Fulfills: HU FW Limit:12


Writing Program (Web site)

Taught By

Paul Farber (Profile)


Haverford, Gest 102

Meeting Times

TTh 11:30-1:00