History of Urban America
(Hist 340)

Lawrence W. Kennedy
University of Scranton
Scranton, Pennsylvania, USA
Spring 2002

Course Books | Attendance | Grading | Class Schedule and Assignments
Professor Kennedy Comments on Course

Office: St. Thomas Hall 266
Tuesday and Thursday 1:00-2:30
Phone:  941-4294

I am on campus and available every day for either scheduled office hours or appointments. I encourage you to meet with me to discuss your progress toward meeting the course objectives.

The course considers the history of urban life in the United States from the founding of colonial settlements to the end of the twentieth century. The nature of cities and urban life, the process of urban growth, and the problems facing contemporary cities will all be considered. The course is designed so that the professor will work closely with individual students on their writing. This means that written assignments will be emphasized as a significant means of learning course material. The professor will also work with the students to identify and explore the ways that historians work. Students will demonstrate their understanding of both factual content and the nature of historical scholarship.

Students will: explain the significant historical events, developments and persons of American urban history; explain the political, economic, social, and technological forces that shape American cities; explain the impact of cities on American society; write a minimum of 6,000 words in a variety of phased assignments using the techniques and conventions used by historians; demonstrate, through writing, comprehension of important concepts and information of the discipline of history; analyze, through writing, important concepts and factual material of the discipline of history and; synthesize through writing, important concepts and factual material of the discipline of history.

Buzz Bissinger
A Prayer for the City (New York: Vintage Books, 1999 [1997])

Timothy Gilfoyle
City of Eros: New York City, Prostitution and the Commercialization of Sex, 1790-1920 (New York: W. W. Norton, 1992)

John T. McGreevy
Parish Boundaries: The Catholic Encounter with Race in the Twentieth Century Urban North (University of Chicago Press, 1996)

See also Review (H-Urban: 17 May 1997) by Dominic A. Pacyga, Columbia College, Chicago.

Clay McShane
Down the Asphalt Path: The Automobile and the American City (Columbia University Press, 1994)

Carl S. Smith
Urban Disorder and the Shape of Unbelief: The Great Chicago Fire, the Haymarket Riot and the Model Town of Pullman (University of Chicago Press, 1995)

See also a longer version of the Chicago Tribune (5 Feb 1995) Review of this book by Douglas Greenberg, Chicago Historical Society, posted on H-Urban (10 Feb 1995) and the comments on the review by Marshall Feldman, University of Rhode Island (H-Urban: 17 February 1995) and Carl S. Smith's reply (H-Urban: 27 February 1995).

Sam Bass Warner, Jr.
The Urban Wilderness: a history of the American City (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995 [1972])

Walter Muir Whitehill and Lawrence W. Kennedy
Boston: A Topographical History (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard U Press, 1959 [1968, 2000])

See also the Review (H-Urban: 26 September 2000) by Michael Mezzano, Boston College.

Students are expected to attend all class meetings and are responsible for all information and announcements made in class. Five or more absences (for any reason) will result in a failure to receive course credit.

Arriving late or leaving early or during class is also discouraged and two of these occasions will be counted as an absence.

1.  Class Participation and Discussion.  20% of the grade.
Students will lead and participate in class discussion of assigned reading materials. This grade will be based on both your leadership on designated days and your contribution to other discussions. There will also be quizzes and short writing assignments. Failure to be prepared and engaged in class activity will be reflected in a lower course grade.

2.  Book Reviews.  40% of the grade.
Four book reviews are to be written. Two are to be written before the spring break and two after the break. Each paper is to be 3-4 typed pages (double-spaced). No source other than the designated course books are to be used in writing the paper. Each paper is to include a statement of the author's thesis, an explanation of the thesis, and a reflection on the meaning and significance of the book. Students are to demonstrate comprehension of the important information and concepts dealt with by the author of the assigned book. Students should analyze and evaluate the book in light of other appropriate course material.

3.  Midterm take-home exam with two essay topics.  20% of the grade.
There will be a midterm take-home exam with two essay topics. Each essay is to be 3-4 typed pages (double-spaced).

4.  Final take-home exam with two essay topics.  20% of the grade.
There will be a final take-home exam with two essay topics. Each essay is to be 3-4 typed pages (double-spaced).

NOTE: All course assignments must be completed in order to receive course credit.

Letter Grades and Number Ranges
A A+ 97-100 98
A   93-96 95
A- 90-92 91
B B+ 87-89 88
B   83-86 85
B- 80-82 81
C C+ 77-79 78
C   73-76 75
C- 70-72 71
D D+ 67-69 68
D   63-66 65
D- 60-62 61
F F   50-59 50


January 29 Introduction
January 31 Urban Wilderness  Ch 1
February 5 Urban Wilderness  Ch 3-5
February 7 Urban Wilderness  Ch 6-9
February 12 Review of Urban Wilderness due (required)
February 14 Boston  Ch 1-4
February 19 Boston  Ch 5-8
February 21 Boston  Ch 9-11
February 26 City of Eros  Intro and Ch 1-4
February 28 City of Eros  Ch 5-8
March 5 City of Eros  Ch 9-11
March 7 City of Eros  Ch 12-14
March 12 Review of City of Eros due (required)
March 14 Urban Disorder  Intro and Part I
March 19 Urban Disorder  Part II
March 21 Urban Disorder  Part III and Epilogue
  Midterm Paper due


April 2 Review of Urban Disorder due (option A)
April 4 Down the Asphalt Path  Ch 1-3
April 9 Down the Asphalt Path  Ch 4-6
April 11 Down the Asphalt Path  Ch 7-10
April 16 Review of Down the Asphalt Path due (option B)
April 18 Parish Boundaries  Introduction through Ch 3
April 23 Parish Boundaries  Ch 4-6
April 25 Parish Boundaries  Ch 7-9 and Conclusion
April 30 Review of Parish Boundaries due (required)
May 2 A Prayer for the City  Preface through Ch 6
May 7 A Prayer for the City  Ch 7-12
May 9 A Prayer for the City  Ch 13-18 and Epilogue
May 11-16 Final Exam as scheduled by the registrar

Professor Kennedy Comments:
This undergraduate course is designed for  (1) history majors and  (2) others looking to fulfill a university requirement that they take an "intensive writing" course.

In light of the September 11 attacks I offered a much greater concentration on New York history than originally planned and actually shown on the syllabus. With so many of our students drawn from the metropolitan New York area this has proved to be an enormously important decision for the course and one that made the class much more successful and indeed moving.

Syllabus prepared for the H-Urban Syllabus Archive 22 Apr 2002.