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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Margaret Pugh O'Mara
HIST 498
Seattle Campus

Colloquium in History

Each seminar examines a different subject or problem. A quarterly list of the seminars and their instructors is available in the Department of History undergraduate advising office.

Class description


This advanced undergraduate seminar explores suburban development in the United States and elsewhere around the world from the nineteenth century to present. Our readings and discussions will address the political, economic, and cultural underpinnings of suburban growth, and the social and environmental consequences of urban decentralization. We will explore many different varieties of suburbs across space and time—from upper-class enclaves to middle-class “little boxes” to immigrant communities to high-tech office parks—and we will examine the relationship of these peripheral communities to the larger and more heterogeneous cities they surround. Drawing upon scholarly literature as well as popular sources like films, fiction, and music, the seminar will examine suburbia as a place that both generated and reflected crucial political, social, and economic transformations. Readings and research assignments will also provide a closer examination of Seattle’s suburban landscape and the drivers of regional suburban growth over time.

Student learning goals

Successful completing of the course will give students understanding of: suburban historiography and emerging currents in the literature; understanding of suburbs as product of political economy; transnational influences in suburban form and function; the heterogeneity of suburban development over time

General method of instruction

Once weekly seminar

Recommended preparation

Participants should be experienced and comfortable managing heavy reading loads and prepared to actively engage in class discussions

Class assignments and grading

Discussion of readings and identification of key questions and discussion topics for class consideration; original research using primary source materials available in UW libraries.

Completion of readings, active contribution to class discussion, and weekly posting to electronic discussion board (35%); in-class presentation (15%); research paper prospectus (15%); final 15 pp. research paper (35%).

The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Margaret Pugh O'Mara
Date: 05/12/2008