HIST 466
Imagining Urban America, Three Case Studies: Boston, Chicago, and L.A. Spring 2010
Division II
Cross-listed AMST 364
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Class Details

This course will explore the social, economic, and cultural lives of three cities, each of which at its zenith seemed to contemporaries to represent definitive aspects of “American” development. We will begin with Boston–the country’s first “big” city and the nominal capital of Puritan New England–in the colonial and early national periods. From there we will move to Chicago, the transportation and commercial hub of the emerging national economy in the nineteenth century. Finally we will turn to Los Angeles, “The City of Dreams” and the center of the popular entertainment industry in the twentieth century. In each case, drawing on a variety of sources, we will examine the city’s origins, the factors that promoted its growth, and the distinctive society it engendered. Then we will consider some of the city’s cultural expressions–expressions that seem to characterize not only changing the nature of urban life, but the particular meanings each city gave to the nation’s experience at the time. What made these cities seem simultaneously, as they did, so alluring and so threatening to the fabric of national community and identity?
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 20
Expected: 15
Class#: 3193
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: two short papers and a longer essay analyzing selected primary texts; there will be no hour test or final exam
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: History majors
Unit Notes: meets Group F requirement in History major only if registration is under HIST
Distributions: Division II
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
HIST 466 Division II AMST 364 Division II
Attributes: AMST Space and Place Electives
HIST Group F Electives - U.S. + Canada
PHLH Demography: Population Processes

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