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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Margaret Pugh O'Mara
Seattle Campus

Topics in American History

Seminar on selected topics in American history, with special emphasis on preparation for field examinations. Topics vary according to interests of students and instructor.

Class description


This readings course introduces graduate students to major themes and scholarly literature in American urban history. Readings are a combination of some classic texts in the field and new interpretations from more recent literature; they draw from the disciplines of history, sociology, city planning, and political science. Thematic areas of emphasis include political economy, city planning, natural and built environments, politics and policy, technology and economic development, spatial segregation, urban “crisis” and recovery, and cultural discourses of urbanism. The course will consider American cities in an international context, identifying major international trends and intellectual discourses that influenced American urban policy and planning, and comparing and contrasting the drivers of urbanization in other nations and continents.

Student learning goals

Review of the urban historiography, introduction to emerging currents in the scholarly literature, and critical analysis and understanding of historical antecedents to present-day policy debates. Enhanced understanding of how to teach this material to undergraduate students.

General method of instruction

Once-weekly seminar.

Recommended preparation

Open only to graduate students.

Class assignments and grading

The course assignments emphasize collegiality and learning through collaboration via in-class discussion and weekly participation in an online discussion board. We also will maintain a course wiki in which students can add suggestions of books and articles as a current and future resource for their colleagues. Course assignments also emphasize professional preparation for teaching and the adaptation of scholarly discourses and arguments for wider public audiences by asking students to write a hypothetical course syllabus, book review, and op-ed on an urban topic. The final review essay assignment asks you to synthesize what you have learned in the course and prepares you to discuss this field in general examinations and draw upon this literature in dissertation work.

participation/readings 30%; discussion questions 10%; book review 10%; op-ed assignment 15%; syllabus-writing assignment 15%; final review essay 20%.

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.
Course web site
Last Update by Margaret Pugh O'Mara
Date: 01/29/2009