Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


English (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Anthony Barthelemy - Committee Chair

Second Committee Member

Joe Alkana - Committee Member

Third Committee Member

Lindsey Tucker - Committee Member

Fourth Committee Member

Laura Kohn-Wood - Outside Committee Member


By drawing upon aspects of critical geography to explore three writers' representations of urban space and subject formation, American Ethni/Cities develops and advocates for a new methodological approach to the study of literature. Predicated on theories devised by Henri Lefebvre, David Harvey, Edward Soja, Gil Valentine and other geographically-minded thinkers, this spatially conscious literary practice has the potential to enhance one's understanding of literary texts, power dynamics, identity construction, and the spaces one inhabits. Each of the chapters comprising this study aims to demonstrate what this interdisciplinary partnership between geography and literature can reveal. By focusing on Cahan's representation of Jewish immigrants living on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Wright's depiction of black migrants adjusting to life in the industrial North, and Baldwin's exploration of masculinity as a socio-spatial construct, each respective case-study draws attention to the relationship between spatial production and subject formation. The overarching hope of American Ethni/Cities is that others will find this inter-disciplinary partnership productive and will subsequently make it their own, thereby producing even greater understandings of how power works in the spaces we read about, create, and inhabit in our own daily lives.


Spatial Production; Subject Formation; Critical Geography; Cognitive Mapping; Interpellation; Identity; African American LIterature; Jewish American Literature