New Course in United States History
This course examines the dynamic relationship between real estate, racial segregation, wealth, and poverty in American cities and suburbs, with an emphasis on the period from the New Deal to the present. We will look at how the quest for homeownership in a capitalist society shaped ideas of race and belonging, influenced Americans’ political ideologies and material interests, and impacted movements for civil rights and economic justice. Topics include: the formation of Federal housing policies and programs under the New Deal; real estate industry practices in the age of suburbanization and “white flight”; automobility, mass transit, and the politics of transportation; ghettoization, urban renewal, and public housing; property rights and taxpayers’ movements; homeowners’ associations, gated communities, and the rise of private governance; land development and black land loss in the modern South; the diversification of suburbs and gentrification of cities in recent decades; predatory lending and the Great Recession in urban minority communities. Students will learn to interpret a variety of primary sources, including land deeds and covenants, tax records, maps, financial statements, contracts, and industry trade publications, among others. Class meetings will alternate between lectures, tutorials, and discussions of weekly reading assignments. Students will complete 3 topical essays and a final research project.