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Steven Hoelscher, Chair Burdine 437, Mailcode B7100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-7277

Spring 2008

AMS 370 • The Culture of Cities-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
29880 TTh
12:30 PM-2:00 PM
GAR 1.134

Course Description

The United States, it has been noted, was born in the country and moved to the city. This course examines that social movement and the evolution of the United States from a rural and small-town society to an urban and suburban nation. Specifically, we consider the transformation of urban space and place during the epochal era from the late-eighteenth through the mid- to late-twentieth centuries. Cities have long offered some of the best laboratories for the study of American cultural change, social structure, and economic development. Among the themes and problems that emerge from this distinctive geographical setting, we will consider: the interaction between private enterprise and cultural change; the segregation of public and private space; the formation of new and distinctive urban subcultures organized by gender, work, race, religion, and sexuality; the rise of working and middle classes, and attendant new residential and working spaces; the blatant social and spatial divisions between the rich and poor, the native-born and immigrant, and blacks and whites; and the increasing importance of "cultural capital" in reshaping urban politics and conflicts over revitalization and gentrification.

Grading Policy

This course will be taught as a combination of lecture, discussion based on our readings, and fieldwork. As a seminar depends on informed discussions, students will be expected to attend class regularly, read all the materials before our meetings, and come to class prepared to participate. The course contains a substantial writing component; written work will include two 5-pages essays (25% of final grade each), and weekly one-page essays on the assigned reading (25%). The remainder of the grade (25%) will be determined by each student's participation, which will include two oral presentations, as well as short in-class quizzes.


Possible Texts: Nicholas Lemann, The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How it Changed America Jacob Riis, How the Other Half Lives Kenneth T. Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States Dolores Hayden, The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History Andrew Ross, The Celebration Chronicles: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Property Values in Disney's New Town Selected essays from Richard T. LeGates and Frederic Stout, eds., The City Reader Films: "Roger and Me" Lewis Mumford on the City The Truman Show


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