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Greenwich Village, Literary and Artistic Culture
Travel Dates: May 13-19
Instructors: Brent Shannon, Jack Girard
Number of Students Enrolled: 12
Location: New York

Course Description

This course offers students an exploration of one of most famous and enduring artistic communities in the world, Greenwich Village. We will examine the Village's first flowering as a literary enclave for Melville, Whitman, and Poe in the late 1850s, the second great period between 1890s until the end of World War I, through the Interwar period, and into its great peak as capital of political activism, counterculture, and the Beat and Folk movements in the 1940s-1960s. Through a combination of literature, history, essays, art, photography, audio recordings, and film, students will explore the ideas and contributions of poets Dylan Thomas, Walt Whitman, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Allen Ginsberg; playwrights Eugene O'Neill, Susan Glaspell, and Tennessee Williams; writers Edgar Allan Poe, O. Henry, and Jack Kerouac; artists and benefactors including Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, Edward Hopper, Thomas Hart Benton, Jackson Pollock, Merce Cunningham, John Cage, and Robert Rauschenberg; the emergence of New York as a center for international modern art; and other major social and cultural figures including John Reed, Djuna Barnes, and Emma Goldman. Readings and in-class discussions will explore a wide variety of topics relevant to the history and culture of Greenwich Village, including Bohemianism, Communism and Anarchism, jazz, the sexual revolution, the Beat movement, Happenings, and the gay rights movement.

The three weeks spent in the classroom prior to the trip will provide students with the necessary literary and cultural context so that they may approach our Greenwich Village destinations with an educated eye. Required readings will include poetry by Whitman, Millay, cummings, and Thomas, drama by O'Neill and Glaspell, essays by E.B. White and Joseph Mitchell, and fiction by O. Henry, Cather, and Kerouac. Required viewings will include works by conceptualists Allan Kaprow, Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Wilson's “Einstein on the Beach,” Pina Bausch, and additional biographical profiles.

The final week of the May Term will be spent in New York City. Upon arrival, students will take several guided walking tours and visit museums other relevant contemporary and historical sites including New York University, the Cherry Lane Theater, the Provincetown Playhouse, the Salmagundi Club, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum.

Course Schedule and New York Itinerary

Wed 25 Apr Introduction of course requirements and plans for trip; historical and cultural background on Greenwich Village
Thu 26 Apr First Flowering (1840s-1850s): Writers Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, and Walt Whitman; Tenth Street Studio Building, New York University ( Samuel F. B. Morse), establishment of Cooper Union and the emergence of the Hudson River School (Frederick Church and Albert Bierstadt)
Fri 27 Apr Second Peak (1890s-1917): Writers O. Henry, Wallace Stevens, and John Masefield; founding of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Tile Club (Winslow Homer, John Twachtman, and Augustus Saint-Gaudens), and New York University studios (George Inness, and William Merritt Chase)
Mon 20 Apr Second Peak: Writers Eugene O’Neill, Susan Glaspell, and the Provincetown Playhouse; emergence of the Ashcan School, The Eight, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Tue 1 May Second Peak: Writers Sherwood Anderson, Willa Cather, and Edith Wharton; Armory Show and the influx of European modern influences, Charles Demuth, Marsden Hartley, John Sloan, and Edward Hopper
Wed 2 May Artists and Photographers of the Interwar Period: WPA Project, Thomas Hart Benton, Jackson Pollock, Berenice Abbot, and Jessie Tarbox Beals
Thu 3 May Writer of the Interwar Period: Edna St. Vincent Millay, Hart Crane, and E.B. White
Fri 4 May Interwar Period: Joseph Mitchell’s essays, Ruth McKenney’s essays
Mon 7 May Journalism and Activism: John Reed, Max Eastman, Emma Goldman, The Masses, The Village Voice, and Stonewall
Tue 8 May Third Peak (1940s-1960s): Writers W.H. Auden, Dylan Thomas, and e.e. cummings; emergence of New York as international center for modern art, emergence of Abstract Expressionism and Color Field Abstractionism (Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Robert Motherwell, Marc Rothko, and Franz Kline)
Wed 9 May Third Peak: Writers Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and the Beat movement; John Cage and Robert Rauschenberg (”Transformer”); Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham; Allan Kaprow, Happenings, and re-emergence of Performance Art
Thu 10 May Greenwich Village on Film: Wonderful Town, Reds, and Pull My Daisy
Fri 11 May Third Peak: Bob Dylan and the Folk movement, Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, Andy Warhol’s Factory, emergence of Pop Art (Claes Oldenburg, James Rosenquist, Larry Rivers, Jasper Johns)
Sun 13 May Depart from Bluegrass Airport 12:00 Noon; Arrive at LaGuardia 1:57pm; shuttle into Manhattan; check into Carleton Arms Hotel;
Mon 14 May Walking tour of Greenwich Village #1: Writers and Thinkers; poetry reading at coffee house
Tue 15 May Visit theaters of Greenwich Village; see performance at the Provincetown Playhouse; New York University
Wed 16 May Walking tour of Greenwich Village #2: Artists and Activists; visit noteworthy bookstores and coffeehouses; Armory
Thu 17 May Free Day
Fri 18 May Visit Salmagundi Club, Forbes Galleries, and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum
Sat 19 May Visit the Whitney Museum; Depart from LaGuardia Airport 1:45pm; Arrive at Bluegrass Airport 5:30pm
Mon 21 May Trip wrap-up; last-minute discussion of Final Essay
Tue 22 May Last day of May Term; Final Essay due; complete course evaluations