Monday, August 15, 2016

Syllabus for An Undergraduate History Course: "The Automobile and American Life," Fall, 2016

Hi folks -- in inserting the file, spacing problems took place.  It's all here, but sorry for loose formatting below.

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

            Class Meeting: MWF 11:15 a.m.-12:05 p.m., HM 125

            Instructor: John A. Heitmann

            Office: 435HM (x92803).

            Office Hours: 10:00-10:50 a.m. MWF or by appointment
            Blog page:

            Texts:  John Heitmann, The Automobile and American Life.
                        Ben Hamper, Rivethead.
Jason Vuic, The Yugo: The Rise and Fall of the Worst Car in History
And materials on Isidore.

                        Grades: The final grade for this course will be based on two hour exams, (60%), occasional quizzes, 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.  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.

            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/August 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”; “Horatio’s Drive.”

Week 2/August 29                  Putting America on the Road; Henry Ford and the Model T
                                                Reading: Heitmann, Chapter 2. James Flink, "Three Stages of Automotive Consciousness" (Isidore).

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

September 5 – Labor Day -- No Class
            Week 3/September 7                        Stealing Cars; The Rise of General Motors
Readings: Heitmann, pp. 54-63; Stuart W. Leslie, “Charles F. Kettering and the cCpper-Cooled Engine.” (Isidore). Film: “Master Hands.”

Week 4/September 12               Advertising, Styling, Design and the Art of the Automobile
                                                            Reading: Heitmann, pp. 64-71; Clarke, "Managing Design.”                                                                                                          (Isidore)             

                  Week 5/September 19                     On the Road
                  Reading: Heitmann, Chapter 4. Peter D. Norton, “Street Rivals: Jaywalking and the Invention of the Motor Age Street.” (Isidore].
Films: “Grapes of Wrath;” “Route 66;"    “Detour;” ‘Keroauc: On the Road"

                  Week 6/ September 26                    Religion, Courtship and Sex
                                                                                          Readings: Heitmann, Chapter 5.
Films: “Thelma and Louise”; “Motorcycle Diaries”

October 3 – Exam 1

October 5-9 Mid-Term Break
Week 7/ October 10        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/October 17                           World War II:  Detroit, the Arsenal of Democracy
                                                                        Readings:  Heitmann, Chapter 7
Film: “Jitterbugs.”            

Week 9/ October 24                          The Post War Industry and Technological Suppression
Readings: Heitmann, pp. 133-154: Robert C. Post. “Henry Kaiser, Troy Ruttman, and Madman Muntz: Three Originals.” (Isidore).
                                                                                          Film: “Tucker”
                  Week 10/October 31                        Chrome Dreams of the 1950s
                                                            Jan & Dean and  the Beach Boys          
Readings: Heitmann, pp.154-163; Jeremy R. Kinney, “Racing on Runways: The Strategic Air Command and Sports Car Racing in the 1950s.” (Isidore).
                                                                                          Film:  “American Graffiti”
November 7        Exam #2 -- you will be tested on the Vuic  book at this time

Week 11/ November 9            The Rise of the American Muscle Car
                                                                                          Readings: Heitmann, pp.164-178.
                                                                                          Films: “Goldfinger;” “Thunderball” “Bullitt.”

                  Week 12/ November 14                 Oil Shock I: Japan, James Bond, and Mobile Lovemaking
Readings: Heitmann, pp. 178-184; Gary T. Schwartz, “The Myth of the Ford Pinto Case.” (Isidore)
                                                                                          Film: “Easy Rider;” Toby Halicki's "Gone in Sixty Seconds"

Week 13/ November 21 and November 28           The Automobile World Upside Down, 1980s to the Present.

                                                                        Readings: Heitmann, pp.185-194, "The
                                                                        Filming of Bullit"(Isidore); Luscombe, Belinda. “The Tao of Vin Diesel: Millions of Fans are Inspride by his Oddest Role Yet: Philosopher.” (Isidore). Film: “Fast and Furious; Tokyo Drift;”  "The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant"

Week 14/ December 5  The Automobile Industry and the Future; Sum Up
Reading:  Heitmann, pp.194-206; Shladover, Steven E. “The Truth About Self-Driving Cars.” (Isidore).
Film:  “The Revenge of the Electric Car”

Week 15/December 9    Last Day of Classes
                                                      Heitmann, Epilogue.

FINAL EXAM, Tuesday, December 13, 12:20 --2:10 p.m. On this exam you will be tested on the Ben Hamper Book.

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