HST 344 Syllabus, The Automobile and American Life, Spring 2010

Hi folks-- after a nice and productive sabbatical it is back into the classroom! The following syllabus serves as only a preliminary guide to my course this term, as modifications will take place during the term. Sorry for formatting problems -- this happens when I try to insert the Word file into this blog site.

HST 344 -- Science, Technology and the Modern Corporation: The Automobile and American Life

Class Meeting: MWF 1-1:50 p.m., HM 125

Instructor: John A. Heitmann

Office: 435HM (x92803).

Office Hours: 10:00-10:50 MWF or by appointment

E-Mail: John.Heitmann@notes.udayton.edu

Home page: http://homepages.udayton.edu/~heitmann/

Texts: John Heitmann, The Automobile and American Life.

Jack Keroauc, On the Road.

Ben Hamper, Rivethead.

Tom Wolfe, The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby.

Grades: The final grade for this course will be based upon one Mid-Term Exam, (30%), Three Critical Book Reviews (40%), and Final Exam (30%). There is an option in terms of the book reviews. Instead of writing the three reviews, you may decided to write a term paper of 10-15 pages on a topic selected from a list that I will provide. However, you must make this decision no later than January 20. The grade scale is as follows: A 94 to 100; A- 90 to 93; B+ 87-89; B 84-86; B- 80 - 83; C+ 77-79; C 74-76; C- 70-73. A similar pattern applies to lower grades. Letter grades are assigned a mid-point numerical grade. Additionally, attendance can influence your final grade: if you miss more than 3 classes, one letter grade will be deducted from your grade; if you miss more than 6 classes, a two letter grade reduction will take place. A good grade for this course is a C+. Grade averages may be influenced by such factors as trends over the time of the course; for example, how you finish is far more important than how you start. Policies for exams strictly follows History Department Guidelines, and make-ups will only be offered with a valid, documented excuse.

Critical Book Reviews: Three critical reviews of assigned books serve as integral assignments in this course. Each review should be 3-5 pages in length, typed, double spaced. One should aim to critically summarize the book, aiming sure to discuss the authors content, themes, and perspectives, and then also provide an introspective response to the book that incorporates one’s own evaluation of the work’s authenticity and value.

Attendance at lectures is crucial if you are to expect a good grade in the course, and I want you to be at every class if that is at all possible. On many occasions material presented is not covered in the readings, and so many of the ideas discussed central to the development of modern science are complex and often confusing. Your attitude and what you bring in to the classroom can make the difference between a mediocre offering and a most positive educational experience.

Cheating and plagiarism will not be tolerated and offenses will be punished accordingly. A first offense will result in a failing grade for the exam or paper in question; a second offense will result in a failing grade for the course. Further, it is totally unacceptable to hand in a paper that is the result of work in another class.

Course Purpose: It has been said that the automobile is the perfect technological symbol of American culture, a tangible expression of our quest to level space, time and class, and a reflection of our restless mobility, social and otherwise. In this course we will explore together the place of the automobile in American life, and how it transformed business, life on the farm and in the city, the nature and organization of work, leisure time, and the arts. This is a most complex transition that we will study, as the automobile transformed everyday life and the environment in which we operate. It influenced the foods we eat; music we listen to; risks we take; places we visit; errands we run; emotions we feel; movies we watch; stress we endure; and, the air we breathe.


The week of:

Week 1/January 4 Introduction; What our cars tell us about ourselves. The car in everyday life: the automobile age and its contradictions. Automotive Pioneers

Reading: Heitmann, .Introduction, Chapter 1.

Films: “Wild Wheels”; “The Secret Life of the Car; “Horatio’s Drive”

Week 2/January 11 Putting America on the Road; Henry Ford and the Model T

Reading: Heitmann, Chapter 2.

Film: “Automoible Parade;” “Gussle’s Day of Rest”

January 18 MLK Day

Week 3/January 20 The Rise of General Motors

Reading: Heitmann, pp. 54-63.

Film: “Master Hands”

Week 4/January 25 Advertising, Styling, Design and the Art of the Automobile

Reading: Heitmann, pp. 64-71.

Film: “Automobile Advertising 1910-1940.”

January 29 Review of Keroauc book is due: Film: “Kerouac”

Week 5/February 1 On the Road

Reading: Heitmann, Chapter 4.

Films: “Grapes of Wrath;” “Route 66;" “Detour.”

Week 6/ February 8 Religion, Courtship and Sex

Readings: Heitmann, Chapter 5.

Films: “Thelma and Louise”; “Motorcycle Diaries”

Week 7/ February 15 The Interwar Years: The Great Depression, Aerodynamics, and Cars of the Olympian Age

Readings: Heitmann, Chapter 6.

Films: “The Crowd Roars;” “Burn Em’Up Barnes.”

Week 8/February 22 World War II: Detroit, the Arsenal of Democracy

Readings: Heitmann, Chapter 7

Film: “Jitterbugs.”

February 26 Mid Term Exam

March 1-5 – Mid Term Break

Week 9/ March 8 The Post War Industry and Technological Suppression

Readings: Heitmann, pp. 133-154.

Film: “Tucker”

Week 10/ March 15 Chrome Dreams of the 1950s

Jan & Dean and the Beach Boys

Readings: Heitmann, pp.154-163.

Film: “American Graffiti”

March 15 Review of Wolfe Book is Due

Week 11/ March 22 The Rise of the American Muscle Car

Readings: Heitmann, pp.164-178.

Films: “Goldfinger;” “Thunderball” “Bullitt.”

Week 12/ March 29 & 31 Oil Shock I: Japan, James Bond, and Mobile Lovemaking

Readings: Heitmann, pp. 178-184.

Film: “Easy Rider;” “Gone in Sixty Seconds.”

Easter April 2 and 5

Week 14/April 7, 9 and 12 The Automobile World Upside Down, 1980s to the Present.

Readings: Heitmann, pp.185-194.

Film: “Fast and Furious;” “The Bourne Identity.”

April 14 Stander Symposium

April 16 Review of Ben Hamper book is Due

Week 15/April 19 The Automobile Industry and the Future; Sum Up

Reading: Heitmann, pp.194-206.

Film: “Cars.”

December 23 Last Day of Classes

Heitmann, Epilogue.

FINAL EXAM, April 26, 12:20 --2:10 p.m.


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