180. Exploring Chicago

G. Perez (Comparative American Studies)
Full Course -- 4 Credits
Fall Semester FYSP 180-01 TR 9:30-10:45

In American popular culture, Chicago is often imagined as the home of infamous gangsters like Al Capone, a city beset by racial and political violence, and an urban landscape filled with troubled urban housing projects and entrenched poverty. This seminar explores these and other popular and scholarly images of Chicago by examining the city's immigration history, studying the role of social reformers and social scientists in analyzing the impact of urban living on city residents in the early 20th century, and reading accounts of poverty, race, and neighborhood life in Chicago. Why is Chicago referred to as America's "second city" and the "city of neighborhoods?” How did Chicago become the site for influential studies of the study of urban life, race relations, and poverty? And how has late 20th century immigration and urban revitalization transformed Chicago's economic, political, and cultural landscape? In order to answer these questions, students will read texts from the disciplines of anthropology, history, sociology, and literature and explore the past and present of the city once regarded as a "social laboratory" for American social scientists.