Margaret Pugh O'Mara
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.
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
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%).