Landcapes of Consumption (SCA-UA 625)

Consumption of objects, images, and places is central to the culture and economy of metropolitan life. The class will explore how the relationship between consumption and cities has developed by examining three key moments—the late nineteenth century and the invention of urban commodity spectacles, post-war America and the rise of suburban consumer spaces, and contemporary America and the selling of the commodity city. The class addresses three questions: Why do we want things? How does landscape organize our consumer desires? How does place become an object of consumption? We will begin with an examination of classic theoretical works that probe the relationships between people, things, and cities. We will then embed these in discussions of changing forms and practices of consumption and urbanism. The empirical cases we will examine range from the development of the department store, to the fashioning of commodity home, to the work of shopping, and to the emergence of a thriving urban debt industry.

Social and Cultural Analysis (Undergraduate)
4 credits – 15 Weeks