City as a Cultural Experience: 59-515/201
Dr. Liana Cheney



Syllabus of Lectures


COURSE DESCRIPTION: This is a graduate course focusing on the theme of "The City" as a cultural exponent of present cultures, the course aims to assist students in connecting their academic interests with their immediate environment. Using "The City" as an aesthetic, cultural and intellectual milieu, student will apply an aspect of their research to the investigation of how does it support, contribute and improve the socio-eco-political structure of a city, in particular Lowell and their city of origin. Parallelism between the student’s culture and American culture will be emphasized as well as their research as a contribution to present society.

ORGANIZATION: Attendance is mandatory for every class meeting. Instructor will lecture on specific topics. Students will visit different sections of the city of Lowell and experience different aspects of the city of Lowell. Students will present in oral and written form a specific aspect of their graduate research.

Classes at the beginning of the course are accompanied with some visits to local sites (most probably on a Saturday) to provide the students with a solid background on the Lowell-New England region with which to approach the preparation of their final paper and oral presentation on their own city and region, and the comparisons they should be able to make between their native region and Lowell-New England. Proposed two meetings a week and possible arrange, with students to take short walking tour of Lowell and Lawrence. This will be a most effective way to familiarize the students early on with the history, architecture, urban design and the society and culture of their surroundings. A selected Saturday for an itinerary to visit the Market Mills Visitor Center exhibit, and walk through the main streets of downtown Lowell to the area of Boardinghouse Park and the Boot Mills Museum. A Saturday visit would also be followed by class discussion.

Some of the architectural films regarding the "City" will be viewed and discussed class films, including Architecture, "The House on the Waterfall" by Frank Lloyd Wright, "The Crucible," based on the play by Arthur Miller. The latter will provide insight not only into the history of early New England, but also on the history of the United States in the mid-twentieth century and the situation unleashed by the McCarthy hearings on which Arthur Miller drew when writing his play. A visit to Salem would precede the viewing of this film. Students are encouraged to view television documentaries and informative programs with a view to enhancing their familiarization with American culture. Readings, films, and local visits will provide a basis for discussion and written commentaries by students. These oral and written comments will be corrected by the instructor and will lend to improvement of the students’ oral and written expression, another purpose of the course.

After the eleventh week, students will be free to devote their time to organize, research, write drafts for, and complete their final project. Any questions they may have as to methodology, or other questions or comments will be responded to by the instructor via e-mail or office hours. Students will also hand in outlines, and drafts of their final paper that will be corrected by the instructor. At the end of the semester, students will present their project orally, and then hand in their final paper in written form.


Lewis Munford, The Culture of Cities. New York: Harcourt Inc., 1995.
(The text analyzes the communities, buildings and surrounding regions, which have characterized cities from Medieval times to the present.)
The Writer’s Pocket Handbook, eds. Rosa and Eschholz, Longham, 2nd ed. 2003.

Janetta Rebold Benton and Robert DiYanni, Arts and Culture. Englewood, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2002.
Sharon Zukin, The Cultures of Cities. New York: Blackwell Publishers, 1996.
(Further bibliography will be provided during the semester)

EXAMINATION: There will be three examinations (dates TBA). Some of the examination will be oral and other written. Examinations are based on specific material related to the Graduate Student's interest.

WRITTEN ASSIGNMENT: All written assignment (exams) will be graded on form as well as content so that spelling, punctuation, grammar, and syntax are to be considered with some care. All work done outside of class must be type written or computer printed, double-spaced. The computerized typing must be as follow: accepted fonts New York, Geneva, Courier, Times, New Roman Times, Palatino and Bookman; only 12 points in character; single space between paragraph, double space between lines; page margins one (1) inch all around. Papers written in any other format are not acceptable. Make a copy of all material that you sent me via email, fax or regular mail.

NOTE ON PLAGIARISM: Be careful never to copy directly or directly adapt from another author without crediting the source. General sources must be listed in a bibliography; any direct quotation or paraphrase must be footnoted. Any unacknowledged copying will receive and F for the course.

EVALUATION: The exams and class participation.

(N.B. Subject to change without prior notice)

Week One: Introduction: scope of the course
Definition of What is Culture? And What is a "City"?
Reading: Munford, The Culture of Cities. Video 1: The Building of a City
Library visit for introduction to the library as a graduate research tool.

Week Two: Presentations
Student’s Oral and Written Presentation of their Graduate Projects
Review and discussion on films regarding the city. Video 2: the City and its Citizens

Saturday: Tour of the main cultural centers of Lowell.

Week Three: Our City
Student’s oral and written presentation of their native city.
View the film based on The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Discussion: a. How did it help you to better understand early American history and its relevance to the history of the US in the twentieth century?
b. What relevance do you see between your own country’s past and present?

Week Four: Visit to Salem. Commentary and report on The Crucible.

Week Five: The City of Lowell
Student’s oral and written presentation on the difference between the culture of their city and Lowell ("All America City"): Video 3: Views of Cities: NY, Boston, Chicago
Library visit to expand knowledge on who to use the library as a Graduate research tool.

Week Six: Cultural Differences
Class discussion on the nature of cultural differences in relation to language, expression and gestures. Videos: Views of City, Latin America

Week Seven: Cultural Differences
Class discussion on the nature of cultural differences in relation to language, expression and gestures. Videos: Views of City, Japan and China

Week Eight: Cultural Differences
Class discussion on the nature of cultural differences in relation to language, expression and gestures. Videos: Views of City, Middle East

Week Nine: Class Discussion
Student’s exchange of written reports and analysis of their thesis. Video: Women’s Architect

Week Ten: Class Discussion
Oral presentations on how their research impacts on present society.
Specific discussion on how Lowell assists their studies.

Saturday: Field trip to NYC

Week Eleven: Students' Reports
Oral and written presentations on the NYC experience

Week Twelve: Students' Reports
Field trips - pending student’s progress
1. Cambridge and Boston
2. Lexington and Concord
3. Peabody-Essex, Salem

Week Thirteen: Students' Reports
Oral and written presentations on student’s research.

Week Fourteen: Students' Reports
Oral and written assessment of the course. Paper Due.