|Economics 209||Spring 2003||Tuesday 1-3:30 + film showing on Monday night|
Associate Professor Economics
Mount Holyoke College
U.S. Economic History (in film) for majors and nonmajors.
This course in U.S. Economic History involves study of the role of economic processes (including class processes) in shaping the history of the United States of America, viewed in social scientific terms as a social formation of complexly interacting political, economic, cultural, and environmental processes. This semester students will also explore the ways in which films depict that history, learning to critique the film presentation of the complexity that is the United States over any given period of time. In exploring economic history, the course will explore several, sometimes intersecting, periods of history defined in terms of class processes that prevailed in certain regions of the USA at the time. For example, the course will examine the slave-era, the self-employment-era, and the capitalist-era. The relationship between economic theories and the prevalent class processes are also discussed.
The exploration of the United States as a constantly changing social formation will provide students with critical insights into economic development, comparative economic systems, and political economy. By necessity, the study of economic history requires learning to use theoretical tools from these other subfields of study. These tools will be deployed in creating a coherent understanding of a necessarily chaotic process of change. To an extent, this coherence is produced by focusing attention on specific topics and/or questions. These topics will include the following: i) analyzing the overdetermined interaction of demographic change with economic, political, and cultural processes; ii) examining the role of racism (including the production of the American concept of race) and sexism in U.S. history; iii) exploring the way U.S. economic history is shaped, in part, by and shapes environmental conditions; iv) debating the interaction of various types of class processes with an ever evolving American democracy; and, exploring the alternative conceptions of U.S. economic history that arise out of post-colonial discourses. By analyzing these and other issues in the context of historical change and economic growth, students will be in a stronger position to understand the contemporary U.S. social formation and the possibilities for change in the future of that social formation.
Grading: Final grades will be based on five projects selected by
each student. A contract, including descriptions and deadlines for each
project, will be submitted for approval.
I. Introduction to Economic History
1. The Role of Economic Theory
a. Neoclassical Economic Theory
b. Orthodox Marxian Theory
c. Post-structuralist Marxian Theory
Online Reading (in progress):
Post Structuralist Marxian Theory and the Study of History
Also, for the 11 February meeting, please read the first three chapters of
E.K. Hunt, Property and Prophets.
For Future Readings --- see the readings section below.
II. First Nations and "Primitive" Communism
See Dean Saitta handout.
Provocative Question: Who are the "Indians" for Today's Americans?
III. British Colonialism, Feudalism, Ancientism, and Slavery
Why Did Feudalism Fail in the Americas?
IV. Regionalism and Uneven Development: Cotton & Textiles:
The Link Between Slavery and Capitalism
V. Post-bellum Feudalism and the Rise of Monopoly Capital
VI. Capitalist Business Cycles and Great Depressions
VII. Political and Social Reform and the New Deal
VIII. Corporate Capitalism Prevails in the Late 19th and Early 20th Century
IX. Mass Production, Fordism, and the Rise of Consumer Culture
X. The New Deal
Tennessee Valley Authority excerpt from Scheiber, Vatter, and Faulkner
XI. Bureaucratic Capitalism and the Agency Problem
XII. Racism and Capitalist Accumulation:
Was the Civil Rights Movement Good For Business?
XIII. Post-Vietnam Era Corporate Restructuring
XIV. The Clinton Era: The Go Go 90s
I. "The Colonial Struggle" in Heilbroner and Singer
Chapters 1-3 in E.K. Hunt
II. "Communal Class Processes and Pre-Columbian Social Dynamics" by Dean J. Saitta (handout --- published in Gibson-Graham, Resnick, and Wolff's Re/presenting Class, 2001, Duke University Press.
"Declaration of Economic Independence," chapter 4 of Heilbroner and Singer
Chapter 4 of E.K. Hunt
III. "Preparations for the Age of Manufacture," chapter 5 and "The Structural Transformation," chapter 6 in Heilbroner and Singer
Chapters 4 and 5 of E.K. Hunt
Economic History in Brief
Discussion of Lowell Factory System
IV. Chapters 6 and 7 of E.K. Hunt
I. Little Big Man
II. Africans in America: Part 1
IV. Daughters of Free Men
VI. Grapes of Wrath
VII. Wild River
VIII. Hudsucker Proxy
IX. Black Like Me
X. Roger & Me
Copyright © 2003, Satya Gabriel, Economics Department, Mount Holyoke College.