A P Literature

Invisible Cities 08

Semester 2 Final Project

5-Point Bonus Deadline
Friday 23 May 2008

Final Deadline
Tuesday 27 May 2008
w/ brief presentation on the scheduled exam day

The Cities

Compose your own series of Invisible Cities, using as a starting point for each the name of a character we have read over the past semester. Each city will be a poetic revelation of the nature of that character and the aesthetic and philosophical issues of his/her book. Please use only one character per book.

Bearing in mind Polo’s injunction to “exclude those whose elements are assembled without a connecting thread, an inner rule, a perspective, a discourse” (43-44), carefully consider what features for each city might best reflect key understandings of your chosen characters.

Also remembering that “Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears” (44), take care to choose elements for each city that would shed light on the desires and fears of each chosen character.

Features to consider (always in relation to the city’s name-character):
How does one get there?
What is unique about the city’s overall design and particular structures?
How might its history, human culture, occupations, pastimes, etc. reveal some qualities of the chosen name-character?
What colors, materials, objects would predominate in each city?
Above all, you are encouraged to determine the most meaningful “rules” for each city... for all of your cities.

The Grade

will be determined by both the number of cities you build and the quality of each construction.

2 = (30 points)
3 = (40 points)
4 = (50 points)

Each city is clearly and creatively linked to its literary character. Apt, perceptive, and surprising details shine new light on that character’s/novel’s “issues”. An excellent application of Calvino’s approach to our second semester material that offers strong evidence of “an inner rule, a perspective, a discourse.” Extraordinary care is apparent in both the style and mechanics of your writing. (50-46 points)

Each city is clearly linked symbolically to its literary character. Significant, convincing detail contributes to the perception of “an inner rule, a perspective, a discourse.” All writing will be fluent and mechanically correct. (45-41 points)

An adequate relation of some aspects of the character and novel to his/her city. A clearly evident attempt to use Calvino’s approach in an exploration of the work we have read during semester two. Writing is marred by a small number of stylistic, grammatical, and/or mechanical flaws. (40-36 points)

Work fails to relate adequately the character to meaningful city structures or patterns. Work does not appear to understand Calvino’s approach to constructing (writing) about individual cities in this symbolic manner. Writing is marred by many stylistic, grammatical, and/or mechanical flaws. (20 points)


This project puts a great demand on your ability to think metaphorically. It calls as much on your ability to feel your way into the spirit or mood of the character as it does for you to rationally analyze him/her.

Brainstorm about each chosen character and book. List everything that comes to mind when you think of them.

Construct a list of “inner rules” or necessary elements for each city. If your character were leader of the city, what would be his/her most important rules? (Remember that you character will not be a person IN your city but that the city will be a symbolic representation of him/her)

Your character/city is what kind of geometrical figure, fabric, color, furniture, building material, weather, animal, etc.?

Will this character’s city be one that is made (imagined, planned, constructed by conscious human will) or one that has grown (through an apparently natural, organic process of some kind)?

Might charting demographic information about the city (statistics of population, employment, land area, usage patterns, etc.) be useful or symbolically evocative?

Remember that, above all, each “city” you construct is a story full of wonder or dread (or something). Tell it well.

Please, for your sanity, peace of mind, and general well-being: DO NOT PROCRASTINATE. Plan the stages of your work and stick to it. Keep your eye on the calendar.