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Course Guide ~ HIST 125 / Black Metropolis

Detail of Chicago Sanborn Map indexHIST 125: Black Metropolis 

This seminar interrogates the role of cities in African-American life. Through course readings and assignments, we will develop an alternative genealogy of black urban life that pushes against predominant narratives of urban crisis and dysfunction to consider instead how cities have also fostered black community, culture, and creativity. While the course considers a range of US cities, we will focus on what is arguably the most studied metropolitan space in African-American history: Chicago. Using census data, newspaper accounts, city directories, novels, photographs, and oral history interviews held in the Filius Jazz Archives, students will work in groups to map black social, cultural, and political institutions on the South Side of Chicago. After examining the varied responses to the so-called “urban crisis,” which not only prompted shifts in policy but also African-American politics, we conclude by examining the renewed interest African-American urban life as a site of tourism and memory-making. 

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