History | Seminar in Cultural History
H780 | 2806 | Wasserstrom

A portion of the above section reserved for majors
Above section meets with CULS C701 and AMST G751


The goal of this course is to explore the varied ways in which local
and global issues can and do become intertwined, and to see how
cultural theory, ethnographic strategies, and various types of
historical methods can help us understand and write about this
subject.  Students, who will be expected to write an extended
research paper as well as two short reaction pieces to the readings,
will be able to focus on any one of a variety of issues in their main
projects, depending on their interests.  The readings and course
discussions, though, will approach the topic via examination of large
modern cities and related issues.  Very big metropolises, according
to some analysts, always need to be thought about as transnational
spaces.  They are sites where people and ideas from far-flung places
come together, and they are linked in important ways to distant urban
centers via economic and cultural networks.  These are also places,
however, that some analysts have claimed need to be understood from
the ground up, that is, as places that inspire very localized senses
of community that may vary from neighborhood to neighborhood.  We
will not try to resolve the question of which vision is more apt.
But via discussion of texts ranging from classic essays in urban
sociology, to an ethnography of McDonald’s franchises in East Asian
cities, to works by European and American urban historians, to a
novel set in India and a memoir of city life by a journalist based in
Croatia, we will try to figure out which types of interpretive
strategies work best when asking particular sorts of questions.
Another thing that we will explore together is the extent to which
contemporary processes of globalization are and are not comparable to
forms of colonialism and imperialism of earlier eras.  The class will
periodically meet together with a course on similar issues (with an
overlapping reading list) that is being offered by Tom Gieryn of the
Sociology Department, whose areas of expertise included cultural
theory and science studies.