HIST 363

Americans, Catastrophe, and Culture in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries

This course explores catastrophes in the United States in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, using these uncommon occurrences as a window into American culture and its practices. Following a roughly chronological path, the course is organized around different kinds of catastrophes Americans have faced--ranging from floods and forest fires to epidemics, from state-sanctioned violence to domestic terrorism, from warfare to violent crime--and the historical themes and issues these moments of crisis revealed, and shaped. The course does not claim coverage of every disaster but seeks instead to expose students to the range of historiographical approaches employed in the study of catastrophe, and the multiplicity of issues they allow historians to explore.