United States Urban Culture in the Twentieth Century

History 103D.001

Summer 2005
Instructor (text): 
258 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
M W 3-6
Class meets in 2227 Dwinelle on 6/22.

This course will explore how Americans defined and experienced urban living during the Age of the City. As the United States transformed from a rural and small-town society into an urban and suburban nation, Americans found that cities facilitated new forms of association and new methods of control. This seminar will examine cultural themes such as masculinity, the built environment, popular entertainment, and the public sphere to explore how city residents exerted and challenged authority in urban America. Over the course of the semester, this seminar will seek to explain the apparent contradictions of urban fragmentation and integration. For instance, we will discuss how ethnic, artistic, sexual, and racial subcultures developed alongside a new, urban mass culture. During other weeks, we will analyze how the rise of black, formal, political power paralleled an increased marginalization of black neighborhoods. Ultimately, this seminar hopes to illuminate how cultural shifts in urban America spurred and reflected changing power relations in America-at-large.

Course requirements include weekly readings, one book review, and your choice of a thesis pre-prospectus or a final, in-depth book analysis. The seminar will utilize primary documents, films, and secondary readings, such as Paul Groth's Living Downtown, George Chauncey's Gay New York, George Sanchez's Becoming Mexican American, Thomas Sugrue's The Origins Of The Urban Crisis, and Mike Davis's City of Quartz.