HIS 350L • Consuming America - W
A half-century ago the historian David Potter argued in People of Plenty that American abundance played a crucial role in creating and sustaining American democracy. More recently, historians have highlighted the role of consumption in shaping all aspects of American society. This course will explore the history of the relationship between the American consumer and the nation's social history. It will address such topics as the use of colonial boycotts to challenge British political control, the impact of the rise of a mass market at the end of the 19th century, and the making of a middle-class society of consumption in the twentieth century. The course will examine such topics as women shoppers (and shoplifters), the immigrant experience, ideas about the morality and meaning of spending, and advertising's role in shaping the American economy, society, and politics.
Required Texts: Breen, T.H. "Baubles of Britain: The American Consumer Revolution of the Eighteenth Century". Wilfred, Sidney. Sweetness and Power: the Place of Sugar in Modern History. Abelson, Elaine. When Ladies Go A-Thieving: Middle-Class Shoplifters in the Victorian Department Store. Horowitz, Daniel. The Anxieties of Affluence. Lears, T. J. Jackson, The Culture of Consumption : Critical Essays in American History, 1880-1980. Ewen, Elizabeth. Immigrant Women in the Land of Dollars: Life and Culture on the Lower East Side, 1890-1925. Cohen, Lizbeth. Consumer's Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America. Excerpts of articles about theories of consumption Grading: Participation: 20%; Portfolio of weekly papers, 1-3 pages in length: 40%; Final paper, research paper plus draft: 40%. Crosslisting: None