Writers and artists took up questions that originated in the sphere of urban planning to explore how underground movement changed the ways people understand the city. Modern poets envisioned the subway as a space of literary innovation; playwrights and fiction writers used it to gauge the consequences of migration and immigration; and essayists found that it underscored the fragile relationship between urban development and memory. Even today, the symbolic associations forged by these early texts continue to influence understanding of the cultural significance of the subway and the city it connects.
"A stimulating and impressive book. . . . Its interdisciplinary breadth is admirable and its comprehensive account of New York subway texts provides a model for historically and geographically grounded literary research."—Hsuan Hsu, author of Geography and the Production of Space in Nineteeth-Century American Literature
"Underground Movements is about how culture, especially poetry, has used the subway in works of art. . . . For the modernists, rather than a higher power the subway enabled one to discover new personal insights. In fact, when I was in law school I used to ride the subway to gather my thoughts for an upcoming paper, so I can empathize with this argument."—Public Transport
"Chapter 5 makes important arguments about how African-American writers used the subway to pose questions and highlight contradictions regarding class, racism, historical memory, and uneven development. Stalter-Pace is attentive to the subway's paradoxical offer of freedom and agency at the cost of passivity and conformity."—Technology and Culture
"[A] brilliantly taciturn work. . . . Stalter-Pace does a very good, nuanced job examining how the subway has functioned in American society from conception to the present day."—Journal of American Culture