HI5039 - At Home in America: Society, Politics and Environment in the Home, 1860 to the present

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What will I learn on this module?

This module will consider the wider social, political and environmental factors that shaped where, how, and in what type of home Americans have lived since 1860. Within the module, you will look at the forces that transformed and challenged the boundaries of the American home---from debates about poverty and social welfare, to economic policies surrounding homeownership, the mechanisms of racial segregation, new sex and gender roles as well as the rise of domestic consumption and its impact on the environment. The module will introduce you to a range of American homes, from the suburban and model homes of the American dream to the tenement flats, trailer parks and make-shift homes of ‘skid row’ – which tell a different story about what it means to be ‘at home in America’.

The module will complicate definitions and understandings of the American home---revealing its contested meanings, construction, and lived experience across different races, genders and classes. In asking these questions the module shall probe how far being ‘at home in America’ has depended upon changing understandings of the home, and its relationship to American identity. Through the module, you will learn about developments in politics and policy as well as broader social, cultural and environmental transformations since 1860. The module will open you up to a broad range of material in American history, from key social policies such as the Federal Housing Act, to broader social changes including the gender revolution accelerated by new domestic technologies, for instance the washing machine. The module will be broadly chronological, but subjects will also be approached though key themes that span decades.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn on this module by attending lectures and seminars. The lectures will introduce you to the module’s core themes and key historiographical debates related to the subject area. For the weekly seminars, you will be expected to undertake the required reading (available via the electronic reading list) and sample the recommended reading, and will build on your independent reading by contributing ideas and arguments to seminar discussions with your peers. Seminar discussions will incorporate both large and small group discussions, built around focused questions on relevant themes and topics. Seminars will also include significant engagement with carefully selected primary sources. You will receive formative feedback throughout the learning process and summative assessment will match your learning against the learning outcomes for the module.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Your academic development will be supported through your module tutor, engagement with your peers, and through the programme leader. The module tutor will be accessible within publicised Feedback and Consultation hours and via email. Your peers will provide you with a collaborative learning environment, and your programme leader will guide you through the requirements and expectations of your degree programme, of which this module is part. You will also be supported through individual engagement with the academic literature, lectures, and resources available on the eLP. Formative feedback will be on-going through seminar activities and assessment tasks.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:

1. Knowledge and understanding of the ways American homes have developed, and the key social, political and environmental forces that have shaped them.
2. Demonstrate a critical engagement with the concept of the home, and its historiography.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
3. Demonstrate a range of transferable skills, including the ability to make independent critical judgements, to critically evaluate sources, to summarise the research of others, and to present arguments in a cogent and persuasive way.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
4. Awareness of the historical origins of contemporary debates about housing, race, gender, and the environment.
5. Curiosity about the nature of evidence on which our knowledge of the past, and therefore our understandings of the present, depend.

How will I be assessed?

1 x 2000-word essay (40%). This will be dedicated to one specific housing type or thematic issue from the course. [MLOs 1, 2, 3]

1 x 3000-word essay (60%). This will deal with a comparative or broader thematic issue from the course. [MLOs 1–5]

You will receive formative feedback from your tutor and your peers in seminar discussions.
You will receive written feedback from your tutor on all assignments. Feedback on initial summative assessments will enable you to improve on later ones. For the final essay you will have the opportunity to receive formative feedback on an essay plan prior to submitting your essay.

Pre-requisite(s)

N/A

Co-requisite(s)

N/A

Module abstract

This module will consider the wider social, political and environmental forces that shaped where, how, and in what type of dwellings different Americans lived, since 1860. Within the module, you will look at the forces that transformed American homes – from debates about poverty and social welfare to economic policies surrounding homeownership, the mechanisms of racial segregation, changing sex and gender roles, and rising domestic consumption and its environmental impact. The module will complicate definitions and understandings of the American home – revealing its contested meanings, construction, and lived experience across different races, genders and classes. In asking these questions the module shall probe how far being ‘at home in America’ has depended upon changing understandings of the home, and its relationship to American identity. Through the module, you will learn about developments in politics and policy as well as broader social, cultural, and environmental transformations since 1860. The module will be broadly chronological, but subjects will also be approached though key themes that span decades.

Course info

UCAS Code QV31

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Humanities

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2020

Fee Information

Module Information

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