Drexel University Honors Colloquium
Museums, Nature, & Narratives
Lydia Pyne, Instructor
Great Works Symposium Travel Option
Cape Town, South Africa
14 June – 23 June 2013 (1 credit)
This travel course builds on the Great Works Symposium course, Life and Death in the Museum (Spring 2013). In Cape Town, we will explore South Africa's history of science as well as cultural and social history through museums and visits to areas within the Western Cape. These will include South Africa Museum, District Six Museum, Robben Island, Table Mountain, and De Hoop Nature Preserve, to name a few.
Total cost: $3500 (includes airfare, lodging, ground transportation, programming costs, and some meals.) Honors students are eligible to receive $1500 to defray costs, bringing the student out-of-pocket cost to $2000 (approximately the cost of airfare.) Additional funding sources are available. Applications are available here.
The World’s Fair in History
Scott Gabriel Knowles, Instructor
Summer 2010; Tuesdays, 6-9 p.m., Hagerty 210
Honors 202, 3.0 credits
*Be sure to check out the digital Drexel Pavilion—a collection of images and impressions of the Shanghai 2010 World Expo.*
World’s fairs have focused the fascination of people for over a century and half, since the first one held in London in 1851. World’s fairs have provided windows into the future for millions of people, offering up glimpses of new technologies, cultural explorations, and experiments in urbanism that both reinforce existing assumptions about the world, while opening up new avenues for expression and imagination.
This colloquium offers students a look at the history of world’s fairs, including London (1851), Paris (1889), Chicago (1893), New York (1939 and 1964), Montreal (1967), and a fair that never happened in Philadelphia (1976). What have nations and cities done to host fairs, what new plateaus in technology and design have they fostered, what futuristic images have they put forward? These questions give rise to a deeper level of analysis of international competition in the realms of technology and design, culture and politics in the modern world.
The next chapter in this history will be written in China. From May to October 2010, Shanghai will host a world’s fair, built around the theme “Better City, Better Life.” Students will examine the unfolding construction, promotions, political contexts, and actual experience of the fair throughout the course, in part through an innovative partnership with Jiao Tong University in Shanghai. Learn more about the fair in Shanghai here: http://www.expo2010.cn/expo/expoenglish/oe/es/index.html
Students will read broadly in history, sociology, anthropology, political science and international relations, as well as urban planning and architecture in this course. Students will produce an original research project, as well as short writing and discussion assignments.
- Develop familiarity with major analytical questions related to the history of world’s fairs
- Survey different analytical methodologies with which to approach the history of world’s fairs
- Write analytical essays on primary and secondary sources
- Conduct original research in primary sources; write an original research essay/project using primary and secondary materials
Major Analytical Questions:
- How do fairs reflect global conflict; global collaboration?
- How do fairs predict technological change; changes in design and aesthetics?
- Are fairs public or private? What is the role of the corporation in the fair?
- What is the role of the “genius designer” in the fair?
- Do fairs make money? Are they good tools of urban renewal?
- How do fairs reflect innovations in marketing?
- How do fairs reflect racial and cultural attitudes of their time and place?
- What does a fair’s period of construction for fairs reveal about its time and place?
Students will develop skills in reading, research, and genre-specific writing for:
- Humanities and the social sciences
- Architecture and design
- Urban planning
Note: Additional readings will be provided in .pdf format or by web link.
- Imagining Philadelphia: Edmund Bacon and the Future of the City; Scott Gabriel Knowles, ed.
- Fair America; Robert Rydell, ed.
- The Chicago World's Fair of 1893: A Photographic Record; Stanley Applebaum, ed.
Assignments and Grades
Students will complete weekly writing assignments in advance of each class meeting. These brief essays will ask students to locate and explain key arguments and themes in assigned readings—the essays will provide the basis for weekly conversation. These essays comprise 40% of the course grade.
Students will complete a take-home mid-term essay exam, answering several key interpretive questions raised in the course, and drawing from assigned readings, class discussion, and selected outside sources. The mid-term exam comprises 30% of the course grade.
Students will complete a research essay/project on the topic of the 2010 Shanghai Expo. Topics will be developed in collaboration with the class and the instructor. Primary and secondary source materials will be used in this assignment. This research essay comprises 30% of the course grade.
June 22: Course Introduction
1) “GM Futurama” (1939)
2) “Pan-American Exposition by Night” (1901)
June 29: Inventing the World’s Fair: London 1851; New York City 1853
1) Findling and Pelle, eds., Encyclopedia of World’s Fairs and Expositions, p. 9-52 (.pdf)
July 6: Industrial Modernity: Philadelphia 1876; Paris 1889; Chicago 1893
Special Guest: Charles Desnoyers, Lasalle University
1) Li Gui, A New Account of a Trip Around the Globe (Desnoyers, trans. and ed.), excerpt (.pdf)
2) “The Centennial Exhibition,” Free Library of Philadelphia, http://libwww.library.phila.gov/cencol/
3) Stanley Applebaum, ed., The Chicago World’s Fair of 1893: A Photographic Record
4) Rydell, Findling, and Pelle, eds., Fair America, p. 1-44
5) Teresa Dean, White City Chips, excerpt (.pdf)
6) Miriam Levin, “Bringing the Future to Earth in Paris, 1851-1914,” p. 38-52 (.pdf)
7) John F. Kasson, Civilizing the Machine, p. 139-180 (.pdf)
July 13: Imperialism; Science and the Corporation: St. Louis 1904; Chicago 1933; New York 1939
MID-TERM EXAM ASSIGNED
Fair America, Chapters 2-3
July 20: MID-TERM EXAM DUE
1) E.B. White, “The World of Tomorrow,” (.pdf)
2) E.L. Doctorow, World’s Fair (excerpt, .pdf)
July 27: Remaking the World: Brussels 1958, New York 1964, Montreal 1967, Philadelphia 1976
1) Knowles, ed., Imagining Philadelphia, p. 1-18, 78-111
August 3: Introduction to Modern China: Politics and Urbanization
Professor Peng Bo, Shanghai Jiao Tong University
1) Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom, Global Shanghai, 1850-2010 (excerpt, .pdf)
2) Marie-Claire Bergere, Shanghai: China’s Gateway to Modernity (excerpt, .pdf)
Special Event: August 5, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Photography Workshop
August 10: Shanghai 2010: The Fair of Today, “City of the Future”
1) “China Rules the World at Expo 2010,” Adam Minter, 29 April 2010, The Atlantic
August 17: The Future of the World’s Fair
Special Travel Writing Workshop with Jason Wilson
August 24: Class Presentations
I do not accept late exams or papers for any reason other than excused, documented absences. It will be your responsibility to make certain that the instructor receives a hard copy of any excused absence documentation. Leaving town for work, or having a busy week are understandable facts of life, but they do not comprise excused absences from class.
Please Note: Students who are not passing the course at the end of Part I are strongly encouraged to drop the course. I am happy to work with any student to reach his or her academic goals, but beyond Part I it is very difficult to catch up if you have fallen behind—pace yourself, and contact me if you feel that you are falling behind.
Extra credit assignments are not offered in this course. Each student will have more than enough opportunities to earn the grade she/he wishes to earn.
All excused schedule conflicts must be submitted to the instructor, in writing, by the end of the first week of the term. Make-up assignments are only offered in the case of documented, excused absences. Excused absences include illness, religious observances, and documented university extra-curricular events.
No extensions or incompletes will be offered in this course. If a student has unfinished coursework at the end of the term due to a documented, excused absence, the instructor will assign the grade earned to that point—the student will then have two weeks from the last day of the term to complete any missing work, and the instructor may at that time submit a change of grade form.
The instructor reserves the right to amend this syllabus in any way necessary for the benefit of the class. Syllabus amendments will be distributed to the class in writing.
Arrive on time, stay the entire class, and do not use cell phones or computers for anything other than coursework while in the classroom. These policies are strictly enforced.
Academic Honesty Policy
The following policies are drawn from the Official Student Handbook:
Drexel University is committed to a learning environment that embraces academic honesty. In order to protect members of our community from the results of dishonest conduct, the University has adopted policies to deal with cases of academic dishonesty. I comply fully with the Drexel University “Academic Honesty Policy,” as explained in the Official Student Handbook. It is the student’s responsibility to know and follow the policies set forth in the Official Student Handbook. Academic dishonesty and/or plagiarism will result in an immediate F for the course with no exceptions. Academic dishonesty may result in suspension or expulsion from Drexel University.
Americans With Disabilities Act
In compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Drexel University’s policies and procedures, the University is committed to the non-discrimination of students with disabilities. Student with disabilities requesting accommodations and services at Drexel University need to present a current accommodation verification letter (“AVL”) to faculty before accommodations can be made. AVL’s are issued by the Office of Disability Services (“ODS”). For additional information, contact the ODS at www.drexel.edu/edt/disability, 3201 Arch St., Ste. 210, Philadelphia, PA 19104, V 215.895.1401, or TTY 215.895.2299.
About the Instructor
Scott Gabriel Knowles, Ph.D. is assistant professor of history and director of the Great Works Symposium and the Custom-Designed Major at Drexel University. He is the editor of Imagining Philadelphia: Edmund Bacon and the Future of the City (Penn Press, 2009). He is a graduate of the Department of the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology at Johns Hopkins University.