Tumultuous and robust, American cities have certainly enjoyed a rich history. As this course is primarily a writing seminar, we're particularly interested in how Americans have given voice to their urban experience, beginning with the literary realism of the late 19th century and culminating in the various expressions of the hip-hop culture of today. Are there universals in the urban story? How and why do shifting populations tell different stories? We'll read history, biography, autobiography, journalism, fiction, and poetry in order to understand the tensions that have informed urban life. More importantly, we'll also study these writings with an eye towards adopting their approaches in our own critical and creative written assignments.