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Context: This assignment helps culminate our class theme, “Reading and Writing the City,” in which we explore representations of urban life from a variety of perspectives and academic disciplines. Our final unit takes on the issue of gentrification; more specifically, we explore how the issue revolves around stories of either progress or subjugation (depending on who is telling the story). After scaffolding some background on the issue and what it means, students form into groups and create these digital tours that serve as visual essays. In creating their own arguments either for or against gentrification, they take on their own stories of this issue and how it affects their immediate community. At the same time, they are able to utilize our lessons on essay structure, close analysis, and argumentation in order to express their own opinions on an issue that impacts all of them.

The two texts we’ve read before this assignment, Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place and Tommy Orange’s There There, help model the ways in which personal expression can highlight issues in one’s home city or country. We especially focus on Kincaid’s subversion of the tour guide structure in order to conduct her own visual analysis of St. John’s, Antigua and its lingering traces of colonialism post-independence.

Aside from the opportunity for students to put their analytical and argumentative skills to work on concrete space, this project seeks to empower students to mine their own experience as part of their intellectual archive. In doing so, our course posits that to understand the city is to read it as a diverse and constantly shifting space, one that requires embracing renegotiation and understanding.

Publication Date

Fall 2021


English 1B: Argument and Analysis


English and Comparative Literature


English Language and Literature | Growth and Development | Higher Education | Income Distribution

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The Google Tour Project