Devon J Mccurdy
Surveys the rise of consumer society in the late-nineteenth-and twentieth-century United States including theories of consumption, the experience of consumer culture by different social groups, the role of the state in fostering consumption, the material impacts of consumer society in the U.S. and beyond, and critiques of consumerism.
This course examines the history of consumption and consumerism in the United States during the twentieth century. The century saw dramatic growth in the variety of consumer goods available and in the role that consumerism played in the economy, politics, and in peopleís lives. We now live in a society in which consumer spending accounts for nearly two-thirds of the economy and in which stores and shopping malls make up many of our public spaces. If consumption shapes our material lives, consumerism and critiques of it play a big role in our public discourse. By considering several topics in the recent history of consumption and consumerism, this course seeks to provide context for consumerismís centrality to daily life and some tools to evaluate conversations about it. It pays particular attention to the ways in which different populations have benefited from or been excluded from consuming, the role of the state in shaping consumerism, and the way that our consumption affects the environment.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Class assignments and grading
Participation 20% Four Response Essays 40% Source Analysis 15% Critical Review Essay 25%