This course seeks to understand the local precedents for the events of this past summer by focusing on the one hand on the ways that Charlottesville has been built, or constructed, as a space that supports white supremacy and on the other, on the ways that locals can and do resist this construction. Readings, films, maps, photographs, walking tours, group discussions, workshops, presentations, and talks given by local community organizers are meant to make students conversant in the history of white supremacy in Charlottesville, Virginia as it’s written into the local landscape. Students will also work with peers in parallel #Charlottesville classes in order to gain an interdisciplinary perspective.
Operating at the intersection of urban studies and English literary studies, the course encourages students to “read” the city with fresh eyes. In Constructing the City, students will approach the city of Charlottesville as a built environment whose meaning is codified in the physical creation of the city itself and both reinforced and contested by local interactions with it. Considering the multidimensionality of space as a physical, perceptual, cultural, historical, and ideological phenomenon, this class asks: What are the arguments posited by the local landscape? What does it mean for parts of town to be “private” and “public”? Who is the city built for? How does the language of University and town authorities mythologize the city? How do Charlottesville’s inhabitants create, enforce, and resist the built landscape?