Current and Upcoming

Reading NYC at War

July 24, 2024
5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
Kent Hall, 1140 Amsterdam Ave., New York, NY 10027 CVTI - Room 205

This mock seminar is open to all Columbia affiliates and neighbors and will meet:

Wednesdays, July 17, 24, 31, and August 7, 5:30 - 7 p.m. Refreshments will be served.

Note: Separate registration required for each session.

Sponsored by the Center for Veteran Transition and Integration.

How have wars affected New York City and its communities? Home to artists and authors; soldiers, sailors, and civilians alike—New York has always keenly felt the impact of war, either as a site of conflict itself or a home for those struggling to understand it. This seminar considers the intersections between the City of New York and war across the centuries. Our reading selections will engage written work in which NYC features directly along with literature written about war by New York-based writers. Readings may include work by W.H. Auden, Anthony Hecht, Harvey Shapiro, Susan Sontag, Edith Wharton, Walt Whitman and others, in seminars that will range from the American Civil War into the twenty-first century. Throughout the month, we’ll ask: how has war shaped the Five Boroughs? How did New York City’s writers engage with the wars of their times? What can we learn about our city and ourselves from reading these texts together? 

17 July: Introductions & Writing About War 

  • Russell Shorto, “When New York City Was a (Literal) Battlefield”
  • Edith Wharton, “Writing a War Story”

24 July: World War I & the Harlem Renaissance 

  • selections from The Crisis
  • Claude McKay, “If We Must Die”
  • Erick Trickey, “One Hundred Years Ago, the Harlem Hellfighters Bravely Led the U.S. Into WWI”

31 July: World War II & 9/11 

  • W.H. Auden, “September 1, 1939”
  • Anthony Hecht, “It Out-Herods Herod. Pray You, Avoid It”
  • David Lehman, “The World Trade Center, 1993” and “September 14, 2001”
  • Marianne Moore, “Keeping Their World Large”
  • Daniel Swift, “Letter from New York”

7 August: Walt Whitman’s Civil War & the Future of New York War Writing 

  • Matt Gallagher, “The Forever War Over War Literature”
  • Herman Melville, “The House-Top: A Night Piece”
  • Walt Whitman, “Manhattan” and “The Wound Dresser”; and others

About the Instructor:  Nick Utzig is a lecturer at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY. He received his PhD from Harvard University, where his research focused on representations of war in English Renaissance literature. Before his PhD, Nick was a US Army aviation officer and served in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Contact Information

David Keefe