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HIST 1885 Consumer Culture

October 12, 2017

HIST 1885 Consumer Culture (HA-AS) (also AMST 1885)

Tuesday and Thursday: 1:25-2:40

Visiting Professor Adrienne Johnson

This course will examine consumerism in the United States, first focusing on the rise of advertising, mass market goods, shop windows, and department stores at the turn of the 20th century. We will examine the built environment and experience of shopping and the consequent disease of “kleptomania,” or shoplifting, looking at inequality and activism as potential political outlet for consumerism. We will also ask study consumerism as a system. What stands outside consumer culture? Are the most precious, protected parts of our daily lives actually the most commercialized: nature, love, the gift, the family? What does it mean to commodify love or bottle nature? Can art or beauty be beyond value? This class moves beyond a discussion of Nikes and fast cars, asking for a wholesale revision of what can’t be bought: Is it nature, family, love, art?