The syllabus for this course will be a work in progress for the first five or so class sessions. Nine sessions have been planned and scheduled by the professor; another nine are planned but not yet scheduled; the remaining eight will be planned and scheduled collectively. The rationale for this is to make the course more participatory than usual, and also to give you some insight into the processes of choosing good resources, building a syllabus so that it fits together well, and leading class sessions so that they’re stimulating and memorable.
Wednesday, September 8: Overview and Introductions
Monday, September 13: Mobilities and modernities
Reading: Tim Creswell, “The Production of Mobilities” from On the Move: Mobility in the Modern Western World
Wednesday, September 15: Cars and culture(s)
Reading: Harvey Molotch, “Driving” from City A-Z
Marc Augé, “Roundabouts” from City A-Z
Rudy Koshar, “Driving Cultures and the Meaning of Roads: Some Comparative Examples” from The World Beyond the Windshield: Roads and Landscapes in the United States and Europe (Mauch and Zeller, eds.)
Due by class time: “Auto-biography” assignment
Write a 3-5 reflective paper that focuses on some aspect of your own experiences of automobility, driving, and car culture(s). This assignment is meant to jump-start your own thinking about your relationship to cars; see if you can use it to deepen your reflections on some aspect of the subject.
Monday, September 20: The rise of car culture
Readings: James Flink, “Early Implementation in America” from The Car Culture
Wolfgang Sachs, “Independent as a Lord” from For Love of the Automobile: Looking Back into the History of Our Desires
Wednesday, September 22: Political economies of the car
Reading: Matthew Paterson, “Automobile political economy” from Automobile Politics: Ecology and Cultural Political Economy
Due by class time: Proposal for your class session
Outline the class session that you will lead later in the semester. What reading(s) will you assign, and how will you make them available to the class? What strategies will you use in leading the class (discussion starters, audio-visual materials, illustrations, a guest speaker, an experiential activity, etc.)? Give your session a title that reflects its core point. What do you want people in the class to come away from the session having encountered or thought about? If you are working with another student, how will you divide the work to be done and the leadership of the class session?
BLOG POSTS THIS WEEK: Erica and Jake
Monday, September 27: The politics of filling the tank
Reading: Ivan Illich, “Energy and Equity”
We’ll also likely watch this video in class, on the “Twenty’s Plenty” movement.
Wednesday, September 29: Spaces (re)made for cars
Reading: John Jakle, “Landscapes Redesigned for the Automobile” from The Making of the American Landscape (Conzen, ed.)
BLOG POSTS THIS WEEK: Pete and Ginger
Monday, October 4: Ethnographies of automobility
Reading: David Fetterman, “A Wilderness Guide: Methods and Techniques”
from Ethnography Step by Step
Emerson, Fretz, and Shaw, “Fieldnotes in Ethnographic Research”
from Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes
Note: These readings are in this single PDF file. Ignore the third reading in the file (unless you have time and are interested!).
Wednesday, October 6: Roads I – The Road as an Ethnographic Site
Reading: Keith Gessen, “Stuck“
BLOG POSTS THIS WEEK: Amanda and Ben R.
Monday, October 11 – No class
Wednesday, October 13: Roads II – Disciplining Automobility
Reading: Clay McShane, “The Origins and Globalization of Traffic Control Signals“
Guest: Amahl Bishara, Tufts University
BLOG POSTS THIS WEEK: Wen and Charlotte
Monday, October 18: Protecting Bodies in Motion (led by Jake and Ethan)
Readings: Mark Lamont, “An epidemic on wheels? Road safety, public health and injury politics in Africa”
In addition to the short article above, have a look at the following short web sources, and read at least one of them in depth:
Homepage of the CVIS Project – Cooperative Vehicle-Infrastructure Systems
Homepage of Washington State “Smarter Highways” project
Also check out this photo of a Las Vegas crosswalk designed to improve traffic flow by removing pedestrians from the street.
Wednesday, October 20: On Not Driving: The Parking Problem
BLOG POSTS THIS WEEK: Pete and Ginger
Monday, October 25 Taming the Car: Sustainable Transportation Strategies
Reading: Donald Shoup, “The 21st Century Parking Problem” from The High Cost of Free Parking
Optional readings: “Technologies that Enable Congestion Pricing,” web article on San Francisco’s SFpark, US Dept of Transportation’s primer on congestion pricing, “Road Pricing Makes Sense” (Environmental Defense Fund)
Guest speaker: Mark Chase, transportation planning consultant
Wednesday, October 27 Nacho Transportation: Race and Access to Public Transit – Ginger and Erica
BLOG POSTS THIS WEEK: Maggie and Ben Van D.
Monday, November 1 Changing the Status Quo – Ben Van D., Jerry, Ben R.
Wednesday, November 3 Social Trends and Their Impact on the Evolution of Car Design – Amanda and Charlotte
BLOG POSTS THIS WEEK: Amanda and Erica
Monday, November 8 Driving Desire: Car Advertising
Reading: Fiona McLean, “SUV Advertising: Constructing Identities and Practices”
Car ad assignment will be due by class time for this session.
Wednesday, November 10 Representation of Cars – Wen and Maggie
Reading: Reading: Andrew Taylor, “Character driven: Cars in literature“
Assignment: Please also look for two examples of representation of cars in pop culture, and post them on the blog before the class. I.e. clips of movies/tv shows, songs, excerpts from literature, where the car is prominently featured. In these examples, car culture has to be central to the story/song.
BLOG POSTS THIS WEEK: Harry and Ben R.
Monday, November 15: The Car as Canvas
Reading: Eric Dregni and Ruthann Godollei, Introduction and Chapter 1 of Road Show: Art Cars and the Museum of the Streets (Note: This is a very large file [7+ MB] because there are a lot of color images, so it may take time to download. It will also drink up a lot of ink if you choose to print it, so you may just want to read it online.]
Film (viewed in class): “Wild Wheels,” Harrod Blank
Wednesday, November 17 Place-making in a car culture: The Battle Road Scenic Byway
Guest speaker: Manisha Bewtra, Metropolitan Area Planning Council
Readings: Have a quick look at Section 7 (“Intrinsic Qualities”) of the federal regulations designating National Scenic Byways, the Corridor Management Plan Vision and Goals on p. 2 of this file, and (if you have time) scan this presentation from a public meeting last week, which gives a sense of some of the evolving priorities and plans for the Byway (the answers to the questions were determined by attendees who were voting with handclickers).
Sunday, November 21: Class field trip to Union Square
Meet at Davis Square in front of the Holland Street T exit in time to catch an 11:45 a.m. bus. We will aim to be back at Tufts by 3:30 p.m. If you’re late and need to find us in Union Square, take the next inbound 87 bus to the square and either look around for us, call Cathy’s cell # (978-413-2312), or come to the Independent Restaurant and Bar where we’ll be eating brunch as of about 12:30.
Before the trip watch this 7-minute video tour of Union Square, think about what topic or site you might want to examine in your fieldwork, look over the syllabus for ideas about how to connect with the readings and theory, and glance at the map handouts you got in class on Wednesday.
BLOG POSTS THIS WEEK: Jerry and Ethan
Monday, November 22 – NO CLASS
Wednesday, November 24 NO CLASS – THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY
BLOG POSTS THIS WEEK: Charlotte and Ethan
Monday, November 29 Emerging Markets: India and China – Harry and Pete
Readings: Peter Hessler, Country Driving: A Journey through China from Farm to Factory (pp. 16-19, 26-33), Jacob Friedman “Back-up Buzzers, Road Craters, and Silly Slogans: India’s Insane Car Culture,” and Somini Sengupta, “Priorities in India: First buy a Car, then Learn to Drive“
You should also scan (or read in depth, if you have time!) these three short articles: “Creating a Car Culture in China,” “Three Guys Discuss the Chinese Car Bubble Theory,” and “China’s Unhealthy and Unhappy Car Culture“
Wednesday, December 1: Fueling car culture
BLOG POSTS THIS WEEK: Jake and Jerry
Monday, December 6: Road film festival
Post a clip from a road film of your choice on the blog, and we’ll show and discuss excerpts from these during the class, led by Jake, Ben, and Ben.
Wednesday, December 8 Wrap up and debrief