Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Syllabus, HST 378, The Automobile and American Life, Spring 2011, University of San Diego

Automobile and American Life

Class Meeting: TTH 2:30-3:45 p.m., KPJ 214

Instructor: John A. Heitmann, visiting Knapp Chair in the Humanities, USD, Professor of History, University of Dayton

Office: 283 KPJ (x 4601).

Office Hours: 11-noon, 1:15-2;15 p.m. TTH or by appointment
E-Mail: John.Heitmann@notes.udayton.edu, jheitmann@sandiego.edu
Home page/Blog – http://automobileandamericanlife.blogspot.com

Texts: John Heitmann, The Automobile and American Life.
Jack Keroauc, On the Road.
Tom Wolfe, The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby.
Lee Iacocca, An Autobiography

Grades: The final grade for this course will be based upon Quizzes (10-20% depending on frequency) one Mid-Term Exam, (30%), Critical Book Reviews (30%), and Final Exam (30%). 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. Grades 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. .

In-Class Films are not shown for relaxation or passive learning. Clips of historically important films will be shown each week. As a guide to understanding film in an historical perspective, you may wish to consult John E. O'Conner's Image as Artifact: The Historical Analysis of Film and Television. A film's historical significance lies in the story of its production, the content of its finished product, and the reception of the film both upon its release and in later years. Critical is the concept of context: considering the time, place and circumstances in which a film is both produced and experienced. You may also wish to consult Robert Brent Toplin's History by Hollywood: The Use and Abuse of the American Past (1996) and Reel History: In the Defense of Hollywood (2002).

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 24 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 31 Putting America on the Road; Henry Ford and the Model T
Reading: Heitmann, Chapter 2.
Film: “Automobile Parade;” “Gussle’s Day of Rest”

Week 3/February 7 The Rise of General Motors; Advertising, Styling, Design and the Art of the Automobile
Reading: Heitmann, Chapter 3.
Film: “Master Hands;” “Roger & Me;” “Automobile Advertising 1910-1940.”

Week 4/ February 14 Review of Kerouac book is due; On the Road
Reading: Heitmann, Chapter 4.
Films: “Grapes of Wrath;” “Route 66;" “Detour.”

Week 5/ February 21 Religion, Courtship and Sex
Readings: Heitmann, Chapter 5.
Films: “Thelma and Louise”; “Motorcycle Diaries”

Week 6/ 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 7/February 28 World War II: Detroit, the Arsenal of Democracy
Readings: Heitmann, Chapter 7
Film: “Jitterbugs.”

March 3 Mid Term Exam

Week 8/ March 7 The Post War Industry and Technological Suppression
Readings: Heitmann, pp. 133-154.
Film: “Tucker”

Week 9 March 14 – Spring Break

Week 21/ March 15 Chrome Dreams of the 1950s
Jan & Dean and the Beach Boys
Readings: Heitmann, pp.154-163.
Film: “Hot Rod Girl;” Rebel Without a Cause;” “Thunder Road;” “American Graffiti”

March 24 Review of Wolfe Book is Due

Week 11/ March 28 The Love Affair in Question: The Recession of 1958 and the Critics: John Keats and Emma Rothchild. Imports Hit American Shores.
Readings: TBA

Week 12/ April 4 The Rise of the American Muscle Car
Readings: Heitmann, pp.164-178.
Films: “Goldfinger;” “Thunderball” “Bullitt.”

Week 14/April 11-18 Oil Shock I: Japan, James Bond, and Mobile Lovemaking
Readings: Heitmann, pp. 178-184.
Film: “Easy Rider;” “Gone in Sixty Seconds.”
Easter April 21

Week 15/April 26 The Automobile World Upside Down, 1980s and 1990s

Readings: Heitmann, pp.185-194.
Film: “Fast and Furious;” “The Bourne Identity.”

April 28 Review of Iacocca Book is due

Week 16 May 3 The Automobile Industry and the Future; Sum Up
Reading: Heitmann, pp.194-206.
Film: “Cars;” “Who Killed the Electric Car?”

May 10 Last Day of Classes
Heitmann, Epilogue.

FINAL EXAM, Monday, May 16, 2-4 p.m.

1 comment:

  1. 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.car covers