HISTORY 196 - First Year Seminar in Social Sciences
Fall 2023, Section 001 - Born to Buy: The Making of the American Consumer
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: History (HISTORY)
Department: LSA History
See additional student enrollment and course instructor information to guide you in your decision making.


Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
Advisory Prerequisites:
Enrollment restricted to first-year students, including those with sophomore standing.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:
Start/End Date:
Full Term 8/28/23 - 12/6/23 (see other Sections below)
NOTE: Drop/Add deadlines are dependent on the class meeting dates and will differ for full term versus partial term offerings.
For information on drop/add deadlines, see the Office of the Registrar and search Registration Deadlines.


Born to Buy investigates the emergence and evolution of the U.S. as the canonical consumer society. Through readings and exercises, we will explore how trade, shopping, and politics converged in America to make the consumption-driven culture that it has today. The class will track the arrival and development of newly invented or modified commodities, like fabrics and foods, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and of new retail spaces, like the department store and the shopping mall in the 19th and 20th centuries and the online community in the 21st century. It will examine how entrepreneurs exploited differences in class, sex and race (and understandings of them) to expand both market and desire. Finally, it will chart changes in how Americans have understood and approached their consumption of goods – adhering to traditional paradigms touting necessity and luxury or embracing newer ideologies valorizing fashion and taste.

Course Requirements:

Attendance; Reading; Discussion of the Readings; Occasional Short Response Papers; Presentations; Final Paper

Intended Audience:

This course is designed for freshmen; no knowledge or expertise is required.

Class Format:



HISTORY 196 - First Year Seminar in Social Sciences
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
 In Person
12Enrollment Management
MW 4:00PM - 5:30PM
8/28/23 - 12/6/23
Note: Section 001: Born to Buy: The Making of the American Consumer
002 (SEM)
 In Person
12Enrollment Management
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM
8/28/23 - 12/6/23
Note: Section 002: The Art of History: Hear Me Now--The Black Potters of Old Edgefield, South Carolina
003 (SEM)
 In Person
12Enrollment Management
MW 10:00AM - 11:30AM
8/28/23 - 12/6/23
Note: Section 003: Sport and Spectacle under Socialism

Textbooks/Other Materials

The partner U-M / Barnes & Noble Education textbook website is the official way for U-M students to view their upcoming textbook or course material needs, whether they choose to buy from Barnes & Noble Education or not. Students also can view a customized list of their specific textbook needs by clicking a "View/Buy Textbooks" link in their course schedule in Wolverine Access.

Click the button below to view and buy textbooks for HISTORY 196.001

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Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

Click the button below to view historical syllabi for HISTORY 196 (UM login required)

View Historical Syllabi

CourseProfile (Atlas)

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CourseProfile (Atlas)