Over the past 150 years, the world has moved from one characterized by rural settlement patterns and provincial lifestyles to one dominated by urbanization, industrialization, immigration, and globalization. Interestingly, the history of this transformation overlaps nearly perfectly with the development of motion pictures, which have served as silent---and then talking---witnesses to our changing lifestyles, changing cities, and changing attitudes about the increasingly urban world we live in. Through the movies---both documentaries and feature films---we are able to see, hear, and share the lived experiences of urban dwellers around the world and across more than twelve decades.
Using film as a lens to explore and interpret various aspects of the urban experience in both the U.S. and abroad, this course presents a survey of important developments in urbanism from 1900 to the present day, including changes in technology, bureaucracy, and industrialization; immigration and national identity; race, class, gender, and economic inequality; politics, conformity, and urban anomie; planning, development, private property, displacement, sprawl, environmental degradation, and suburbanization; and more.
The films shown in the course vary from year to year, but always include a balance of "classics" from the history of film, an occasional experimental/avant-garde film, and a number of more recent, mainstream movies.
Note: This course is intended to meet MIT's HASS requirement, but has not yet been approved. In Spring 2014 it will be offered as graduate "G" course, which will allow students to petition for HASS credit, as described on http://web.mit.edu/hassreq/petitions.html .