14 September 2006

New and Improved Syllabus

Here is the revised syllabus for The North American City, which very soon will replace the original version over there on the right-hand side of this page under "Course Materials." Thank you for your patience.

12 September 2006
The North American City
Course Description

Meetings are scheduled for Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 12:00-14:00 hours, with a few exceptions (including the first day). Our classroom is HU207, on the second floor of the Humanities Building.

This course is about the urban history of North America, though it is worth keeping in mind that the instructor is not a trained historian. He is a political scientist with a keen interest in the politics of city planning, and also in land use issues and urban geography. Topics are taken up roughly in chronological order, but the course is based less on documentary sources than on questions about space and place, about the social order and how it is embedded in landscape and cityscape, and about the physical development of cities. These questions are addressed by many of the readings, though sometimes implicitly, especially in the case of literary materials. It also is worth keeping in mind that the course has not been designed to train those who aspire to careers in the urban planning profession. It aims instead to provide an overview of North American urban history by using some primary sources and excerpts from major interpretive works. It would probably be fair to say the course is more critique than celebration of the field of urban planning.

We will meet four hours a week for six weeks (24 total hours), from 5 September to 12 October. The final examination is scheduled for 17 October. The course is supported by a bibliography with full citations. The syllabus that follows has been significantly revised from the one that was distributed at the first class meeting. It is subject to further revision. The current syllabus and bibliography will be accessible at all times through the instructor’s blog: http://fulbrighterinfinland.blogspot.com. All course materials are in English. As indicated below, each classroom session will make use of at least one suggested reading. Most of these are fairly short, and many can be found on the World Wide Web. Please see the following pages for a course outline.

Writing Assignments

There are two writing assignments. Each paper should be at least 750 words long. Papers should be submitted electronically by 18:00 hours on the due date.
1. Select one non-wilderness place that you know well, in Oulu or elsewhere, and explain why it should be regarded as “landscape,” or “cityscape,” noting the differences between the two. Discuss the relationship between form and function and consider whether there are ways that the place could be improved. Due 22 September.
2. Explain how “internal improvements” contributed to westward expansion in nineteenth-century North America, and also to the major population shifts of the twentieth century. Have “internal improvements” played a role in urban development in Finland? If so, how? Due 6 October.

Final Exam

Several essay questions will be posed for you on the final examination. There will be an element of choice (e.g., answer five of the following eight questions about the history of the North American city). Grading Calculus

Your grade in the course will be calculated as follows:
Short papers (25% x 2) = 50%
Final Examination = 50%


Kenneth Kolson (Ph.D., University of Kentucky, 1972) is visiting the University of Oulu on a Fulbright Lectureship. A resident of Alexandria, Virginia, he is the author of Big Plans: The Allure and Folly of Urban Design (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001).

Contact Information

Office: HU313
Hours: 14:00-15:30, Tuesdays and Thursdays, or by appointment
Email: kenjanekolson@yahoo.com
Phone: 044-924-4027

New and Improved Course Outline

Week 36

5 September, 14:00-16:00: What is the City?
· Lewis Mumford, “What Is a City?” (1937), reprinted in Richard T. LeGates and Frederic Stout, eds., The City Reader (London: Routledge, 1996), 184-188.

7 September, 12:00-14:00: The “Hidden Cities” of Ancient North America
· Henry Marie Brackenridge, Antiquities in the Valley of the Mississippi (Pittsburgh: Cramer, Spear and Eichbaum, 1814), 181-195. Available on the Web at http://olivercowdery.com/texts/1814brak.htm

Week 37

12 September, 12:00-14:00: European Traditions and Colonial Urbanism
· John R. Stilgoe, “Landscape,” Common Landscape of America, 1580 to 1845 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982), 1-29.

14 September, 12:00-14:00: Cities on the Frontier
· John W. Reps, “New England Recreated in Frontier Ohio,” in The Making of Urban America (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1965), 227-239.

Week 38

19 September, 11:00-13:00: Planning the National Capital
· Reps, “Planning the National Capital,” in The Making of Urban America, 240-262.

21 September, 12:00-14:00: The Growth of a Planning Tradition
· Reps, “Chicago Fair and Capital City: the Rebirth of American Urban Planning,” in The Making of Urban America, 497-525.

22 September, 18:00: Paper #1 Due

Week 39

26 September, 12:00-14:00: The Urban Community Examined
· Margaret F. Byington, “The Make-up of the Town,” in Homestead: The Households of a Mill Town (Pittsburgh: University Center for International Studies, University of Pittsburgh, 1974, orig. 1910), pp. 12-32. Available on the Web at http://digital.library.pitt.edu/.

28 September, 12:00-14:00: Utopian Visions on the Crabgrass Frontier
· Ebenezer Howard, from Garden Cities of To-morrow (1902), reprinted, edited with a preface by F. J. Osborn and an introductory essay by Lewis Mumford (London: Faber & Faber, 1946). Available on the Web at http://www.library.cornell.edu/Reps/DOCS/howard.htm.

Week 40

3 October, 12:00-14:00: Radiant Garden City Beautiful
· Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities (New York: Vintage, 1961), 3-25.

5 October, 12:00-14:00: Creative Destruction and the Age of Urbanism
· Douglas W. Rae, City: Urbanism and Its End (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), 1-31.

6 October, 18:00: Paper #2 Due

Week 41

10 October, 12:00-14:00: Urban Mortality
· Joel Garreau, “A Sad Truth: Cities Aren’t Forever,” The Washington Post, Sunday, September 11, 2005, page B01. Available as a link on the instructor’s blog.

12 October 12:00-14:00: The Sprawl Brawl
· Joel Kotkin, et al, The New Suburbanism: A Realist’s Guide to the American Future, a report produced by The Planning Center, November, 2005. Available on the Web at http://www.joelkotkin.com/

Week 42

17 October, 14:00-16:00, Final Examination