City As Text: From Rural to Urban Spaces AMST 105 K. Jacobson
From Rural to Urban Popular and Folk Culture • How many of you hail from a city? • Is State College a city? • What are the defining characteristics of a city? What makes an urban environment different from a rural environment?
From Rural to Urban Popular and Folk Culture • Name some examples of Urban Popular Culture.
Popular Culture and The City • Restaurants • Movie-Houses • Theatres • Shops • Work • Urban Music
From Rural to Urban Popular and Folk Culture • Name some examples of Urban Folk Culture.
Folk Culture and the City • Urban Legends • City Survival Know-how (how to move from place to place efficiently) • Homelessness • Apartment Living • Mini-Worlds of Skyscrapers • Remember: Folk culture is broadly defined as the practical, functional, and meaningful everyday practices that do not rely on formal education.
Urban space frames or shapes our lives—and popular and folk cultures. What stories can be and are told in an urban environment? What stories can’t get told in an urban environment?
Heavenly City Utopian View Possibility Positive Discourse Dynamic Transformative Potential Sin City Dark View Corruption Decay of Civilization Threat/Danger Inequality Homeless and Wealthy Competing Versions of the City
Theoretical City High Vantage Point Ordered Blueprint Skyline City in Practice Street Level Disorder Hubbub Chaos Contrary City
Urban popular and folk cultures often set up a dichotomy: The city as a site of order. OR The city as a site of chaos.
Keep these competing discourses in mind as you begin Toni Morrison’s Jazz. What motivates the move from the rural to the urban in this story? What does the city represent to the characters in this story?
City Text: Who is an American? • Is an American, especially as represented in popular and mass culture, a cosmopolitan or a rural citizen? • How do rural or urban locations produce different representations of America and its citizens? • What defining qualities transcend rural or urban locations?
“What’s ‘American’ About America” • Does Kouwenhoven describe a rural or urban “America”? • Perhaps a bit of both—especially if we follow through with Kouwenhoven’s idea of “America Is Process” • “Our history is the process of motion into and out of cities” (last page of Kouwenhoven article)