William B. Piggot
Development of American cities for the past century. Topics include physical development, immigration, politics, and changes in society and culture.
The story of America’s cities is in many ways the story of the American past more generally. Particularly in the period since the Civil War, a study of America’s urban areas is synonymous with the major economic, social, political, and cultural changes that have transformed and continue to transform American society. The course “American Urban History since 1870” will attempt to prove this centrality, examining the formation and growth of America’s cities and their suburbs. It will pay particular attention to questions of economic development and crisis, social group formation and conflict, as well as how these social and economic changes have shaped—and, in turn, been shaped by—urban form.
Student learning goals
To gain an appreciation for the centrality of urban spaces in and to the modern United States' economic, social, cultural, and political development
To understand how the landscape of our everyday lives - buildings, parks, roads, etc. - are not simply the "backdrop" upon which "real" history occurs, but the built environment in and of itself contains tremendous social, political, cultural, and economic meaning
To improve one's critical thinking, analytic, and writing skills, by way of reading, in-class discussion, and writing
General method of instruction
Lectures and discussion, with a particular emphasis on visual learning and analysis. Studying urban life is an inherently visual undertaking. While reading and discussion will be important as well, visual study will take on a more important role than in the average history class.
Class assignments and grading
Two exams, a mid-term and a final. One essay, 6 to 7 pages in length.
Class Attendance, Participation, and Discussion 20%; Mid-Term Exam, 25%; Essay, 30%; Final Exam, 25%