2014 - Fall

Newest New Yorkers

Course Number: JOUR-GA 1023.001

Day & Time: Wednesday, 9:30am-12:00pm

Location: 654

Instructor: Suketu Mehta

New York is the biggest, fastest, richest city in America. It holds more people than Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia – combined. There are eight million stories in the naked city, soon to be nine million (The New York metropolitan area has 22 million, or one out of every fourteen Americans). They make its 321 miles the most densely populated place in North America. As Le Corbusier observed, “a considerable part of New York is nothing more than a provisional city, a city which will be replaced by another city.” What has replaced the well-known and beloved New York of the twentieth century? What is the inner life of the Salvadoran busboy, the Pakistani cabbie, the Senegalese street vendor, the Mexican cleaning lady? What about the Nigerian investment banker, the Iranian real-estate developer, the French cellist, already far richer than most of their neighbors? Who are all these people who come into Manhattan and clean our tables and sew our clothes; own our banks and are automatically seated at the best tables in the best restaurants; and where do they go at the end of the day? How do they fall in love, raise their children, pay the rent?

Two-thirds of New Yorkers today are immigrants or their children, and immigration is the most important domestic issue in America today. This course will open students’ eyes to the splendid feast of the city’s immigrant neighborhoods, explore the complex issues involved in immigration and city life, and help them write about it in a way that does justice to the human beings behind the numbers.