Urban Underworlds: A Geography of Twentieth-Century American Literature and Culture (The American Literatures Initiative) (Paperback)

Urban Underworlds: A Geography of Twentieth-Century American Literature and Culture (The American Literatures Initiative) By Professor Thomas Heise Cover Image
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Urban Underworlds is an exploration of city spaces, pathologized identities, lurid fears, and American literature. Surveying the 1890s to the 1990s, Thomas Heise chronicles how and why marginalized populations immigrant Americans in the Lower East Side, gays and lesbians in Greenwich Village and downtown Los Angeles, the black underclass in Harlem and Chicago, and the new urban poor dispersed across American cities have been selectively targeted as "urban underworlds" and their neighborhoods characterized as miasmas of disease and moral ruin.

The quarantining of minority cultures helped to promote white, middle-class privilege. Following a diverse array of literary figures who differ with the assessment of the underworld as the space of the monstrous Other, Heise contends that it is a place where besieged and neglected communities are actively trying to take possession of their own neighborhoods.

About the Author

THOMAS HEISE is an assistant professor of English at McGill University and the author of Horror Vacui: Poems.

Praise For…

"Heise's illuminating history of the urban underworld in twentieth-century American literature makes excellent use of critical geography to show how urban planners, social reformers, and literary artists conceived the metropolis and its ostensibly dark nether depths."
— Sean McCann

"A timely and eloquent contribution to a growing body of critical work on the stratified meanings of the modern city. Heise convincingly weds textual and spatial analysis in a nuanced reading of the capitalist dialectic whereby uneven development produces urban underworlds and underworld contradictions spur uneven development."
— David Pike

"Urban Underworlds offers sensitive, satisfying close readings of a vast body of urban literature to argue that these intimate portraits of America's ethnic, racial, and sexual underworlds expose the larger forces of uneven capitalist development. It also happens to be a beautifully written book."

— Modern Fiction Studies

Product Details
ISBN: 9780813547855
ISBN-10: 0813547857
Publisher: Rutgers University Press
Publication Date: November 22nd, 2010
Pages: 304
Language: English
Series: The American Literatures Initiative