Dark Side of the City

Course Description

This class explores the urban underworld of North America during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Through the examination of primary and secondary sources, including articles, books, films, and websites, students will seek to understand how underworld activities like organized crime, gambling, prostitution, and murder shaped conceptions of race, class, and gender. The course will primarily focus on the United States, but will also cover topics in Canadian and Mexican history. Students will learn the practice of history and develop critical thinking skills through several varied assignments, including a guided research project on a topic of their own choosing. By investigating the darker side of the city, students will receive a better understanding of the constructed meanings of space and the daily assumptions people make within their urban spaces.

Required Texts

Secondary Works
American Pharaoh: Mayor Richard J. Daley
The City of Eros: New York City, Prostitution, and the Commercialization of Sex, 1790-1920
The Imagined Underworld: Sex, Crime, and Vice in Porforian Mexico City
The Mark Inside: A Perfect Swindle, A Cunning Revenge, And A Small History Of The Big Con
The Sport of Kings and the Kings of Crime: Horse Racing, Politics, and Organized Crime in New York, 1865–1913

Contemporary Works
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
George Lippard, The Quaker City; or Monks of Monk Hall
Mari Sandoz, Capital City

On the Waterfront (1954)
The Sting (1973)
RoboCop (1987)
Chicago (2002)

The Gilded Age Plains City
Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History

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