Thursday, June 19, 2014

Syllabus, The Automobile and American Life, Summer, 2014, HST 344


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

            Class Meeting: MTWTHF 9:25 - 10:40 a.m., HM 125

            Instructor: John A. Heitmann

            Office: 435HM (x92803).

            Office Hours: By appointment

            Texts:  John Heitmann, The Automobile and American Life (McFarland, 2009).
John Heitmann and Rebecca Morales, Stealing Cars: Technology and Society from the Model T to Gran Torino (Johns Hopkins, 2014).
                        Ben Hamper, Rivethead (Warner, 1991).
Jason Vucic, The Yugo: The Rise and Fall of the Worst Car in History(Hill-Wang, 2008).

            Grades: The final grade for this course will be based upon two Exams, (60%), and a Final Exam (40%).  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 at my discretion: 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.  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.

            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.
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/June 23          Introduction; What our cars tell us about ourselves. The car in                                                   everyday life: the automobile age and its contradictions.                                                                        Automotive Pioneers; Putting America on the Road; Henry Ford                                                    and the Model T; The Rise of General Motors; “Master Hands.”

                                                            Reading: Heitmann, Introduction, Chapter 1-3.
Films: “Wild Wheels”; “Horatio’s Drive;” “Automobile Parade;” “Gussle’s Day of Rest.”

Week 2/June 30          Advertising, Styling, Design and the Art of the Automobile
                                                On the Road;
                                                            Reading: Heitmann, chapter 4.
                                                            Film: “Grapes of                                                                                                                                   Wrath;” “Route 66;” “Detour."

July 3  -- Test 1. You will be responsible for writing an essay on Ben Hamper’s Rivethead on this exam.

                                                            No class on Wednesday, July 4

Week 3/July 7         Religion, Sex, and The Car as a Home; The Interwar Years:
The Great Depression, Aerodynamics, and Cars of the Olympian Age.     
                                                            Reading: Heitmann, Chapters 5 and 6.
Films: “Master Hands;” “The Crowd Roars;” “Burn Em’Up Barnes.”

Week 4/ July 14                        World War II:  Detroit, the Arsenal of Democracy;                                                                                      Post-War Industry and Technological Suppression; Chrome                                                               Dreams of the 1950s
                                                            Readings:  Heitmann, Chapters 7 and 8
                                                            Films: “Jitterbugs;” "Tucker;" "Rebel Without a Cause;"                                                                         "Thunder Road;"

July 18 – Test 2. You will be responsible for Heitmann and Morales, Stealing Cars, on this exam.

Week 5/ July 21                        The 1960s; Oil Shock I: Japan, James Bond, and Mobile Lovemaking                                                               
Readings:  Heitmann, Chapters 8 and 9.
                                                            "American Graffiti;"“Goldfinger;”                                                                                                         “Thunderball;” “Bullitt.”


            Week / 6 July 28                       The Automobile World Upside Down, 1980s to the Present.

                                                            Readings: Heitmann, Chapter 10, Epilogue.
                                                            Films: “Gone in Sixty Seconds.” “Fast and Furious;” “The                                                                 Revenge of the Electric Car.”


            Final Exam, July 31, in class. You will be responsible for Vucic, The Yugo, on this exam. 

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