Below I have posted a description of my summer course Reading and Critical Thinking: Reading New York for the second session of Columbia's Summer Programs for High School Students.
This Reading and Critical Thinking course investigates representations of New York City in poetry, prose, and fiction. We will consider everyday life at street level, navigating news and transport, beginning with Frank O’Hara’s “The Day Lady Died,” in which the speaker learns of the death of the jazz musician Billie Holliday. O’Hara published this poem in Lunch Poems (1964), a collection of verse he composed while working at the Museum of Modern Art. We will explore the language of Manhattan at midcentury from E. B. White’s Here is New York (1949) to representations in film and television from The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit to Mad Men. We will create Google Tours of Sylvia Plath’s New York in her novel The Bell Jar (1963), interpreting the geographical and social climate of the city. The course concludes with Plath’s influence on contemporary poets, including Columbia professor Dorothea Lasky. Students in this class will complete short, informal writing, blog postings, digital projects, and presentations, becoming more innovative thinkers able to articulate complex critical ideas.