Michigan I Program
Thinking About Cities: In Particular, Detroit
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
June 25 – August 5, 2017
Faculty: Deborah Dash Moore, University of Michigan, and Jason Schulman, New York University
Factotum: Erin Walters
A city is not just a place, it’s an idea. Its residents construct not only buildings, but also communities that define what the city stands for and what the city is all about.
A city is compact enough to allow for interactions and exchanges, both welcome and unwanted. How do thousands of people, crammed into a relatively small geographic area, get along? How do they live and work together to foster governance, community, law and order, and prosperity?
This course explores urban diversity, Detroit-style. We will look at the racial, ethnic, and religious diversity of Detroit, the twentieth century’s quintessential American metropolis. We will examine its rich and complex history of racial, ethnic, and religious conflict, competition, and cooperation through a focus on a single street: Chene Street. Home to Polish and Italian Catholic and East European Jewish immigrants and African Americans, Chene Street offers a microcosm for urban historical research.
Through the transformation of Chene Street from the most prosperous shopping street in Detroit into a veritable urban wilderness, the course asks how America’s fourth largest city, synonymous with the American automobile industry and with a style of popular African American music, dealt with the intersection of diversity with politics, law, and economics.