Much contemporary discourse around urban studies concerns both the growing awareness that American cities relied on racial segregation in their development, and the recognition that gentrification is changing who gets to inhabit certain areas. In both established and revitalizing cities, race and class seem to determine how much of our paychecks go to rent and whether the coffee shop on the corner sells avocado toast. This course examines the ways in which historic segregation practices – red-lining, restrictive covenants, zoning laws and suburban enclave creation – intersect with contemporary gentrification aspects – being “priced out” or displaced, changing faces of neighborhoods from poor people to affluent “hipsters” and professionals, and the success of places like Brooklyn alongside continued decline of places like Flint. Segregation and gentrification may seem like the watchwords of different historic eras indicating different forms of urban exclusion, but have actually maintained a close relationship in American urban history. This course will examine the relationship through careful study of historic and contemporary accounts ranging across scholarship, journalism, fiction, film and music. Historic research on St. Louis will support a broad inquiry across American cities near and far, to unpack why the US continues to struggle making cities that truly belong to everyone. [AMCS 414]

Spring 2019 Syllabus