HISTORY 364 - Culture and Politics of American Suburbia
Section: 001
Term: FA 2006
Subject: History (HISTORY)
Department: LSA History
Credits:
4
Other:
Theme
Consent:
With permission of instructor.
Repeatability:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

In post — 1945 U.S. history, the suburbs have emerged as the dominant method of social organization, the primary focus of land — use planning, and the center of political power. Critics have blamed suburbia for everything from the abandonment of the cities to the alienation of youth to the environmental devastation of sprawl. Defenders have praised the suburbs for the safety of their neighborhoods, the quality of their schools, and the broad expansion of the middle-class “American Dream” of a detached, single — family home. This course will grapple with the dominant themes and legacies of suburbanization in modern America through a focus on popular culture; social and political history; race, class, gender, and generational analysis; urban planning policies and environmental consequences. Did the same forces that produced the sprawling suburbs also create the urban crisis? How does a metropolitan approach to modern American history recast discussions about the rise and fall of the New Deal Order, the power shift from Rustbelt to Sunbelt, the changing ideologies of class and race, the politics of family and community, and the relationship between local and national policies? How can the increasing diversity and dynamism of the suburbs be reconciled with the pervasive stereotypes of architectural blandness and cultural conformity? What does it mean to say that the United States has become a “Suburban Nation”?

Lecture themes and discussion topics range from Levittown to Columbine, from the “Feminine Mystique” to the black middle class, from the “Silent Majority” to the anti — sprawl movement. We will begin by confronting the dominant discourses of suburbia in American politics and pop culture, and the course will focus extensively on films, novels, and other mass media sources as key shapers of suburban identity. We will pay close attention to the periodic battles over inclusion and exclusion in suburban communities, including political conflicts over school desegregation and housing integration. Throughout the semester, we will examine the changing meaning of the “suburban” label, as middle-class bedroom communities have evolved into autonomous horizontal cities no longer dependent on the urban core. The course assignments include six films to be screened outside of regular class hours, a midterm take-home essay, a research paper, a final exam, and weekly discussion sections with reading assignments. Cost: 3, WL: 6 (E-mail the instructor to join the waitlist).

The list below includes the books likely to be assigned but is subject to change.

Kenneth Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of America
Dean Bakopoulos, Please Don’t Come Back from the Moon
Richard Yates, Revolutionary Road
Kirse Granat May, Golden State, Golden Youth: The California Image in Popular Culture
Bret Easton Ellis, Less Than Zero
David L. Kirp, John Dwyer, and Larry Rosenthal, Our Town: Race, Housing, and the Soul of Suburbia
Mike Davis, City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles
Elinor Burkett, Another Planet: A Year in the Life of a Suburban High School
Sheryll Cashin, The Failures of Integration: How Race and Class are Undermining the American Dream
Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Andres Duany, and Jeff Speck, Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream

HISTORY 364 - Culture and Politics of American Suburbia
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
 
24714
Open
6
 
-
TuTh 11:30AM - 1:00PM
002 (DIS)
P
24715
Closed
0
 
-
Tu 4:00PM - 5:00PM
003 (DIS)
P
24716
Open
1
 
-
W 1:00PM - 2:00PM
004 (DIS)
P
24717
Open
2
 
-
W 12:00PM - 1:00PM
005 (DIS)
P
24718
Open
3
 
-
Tu 4:00PM - 5:00PM
006 (DIS)
P
24719
Closed
0
 
-
W 3:00PM - 4:00PM
007 (DIS)
P
24720
Open
2
 
-
W 4:00PM - 5:00PM
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