Skip to Gallatin Navigation Skip to Gallatin Main Content

First-Year Interdisciplinary Seminar: Main Street U.S.A.

Semester and Year FA 2016
Course Number FIRST-UG82
Section 001
Instructor Amy Spellacy
Days TR
Time 2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Units 4
Level U


Open to Gallatin first-year students only.


This course will consider Main Street as a physical place and as an idea, examining how the space has come to represent American values and ideals for many. We will draw on a range of primary sources, including novels, plays, advertisements, photographs, and films, as well as secondary sources that model interdisciplinary scholarship, to look at the formation of the Main Street ideal and ways that this space has been shaped by some of the larger shifts in American culture and the across the world during the twentieth century, such as urbanization, suburbanization, globalization, and the modern rights revolution. What are the origins of the Main Street ideal? How and why does it promote a nostalgic view of America? How has it been used to both critique and promote small-town living? Who has access to this space, and who is excluded? How has the idea of Main Street been mobilized to present an image of America to the rest of the world? Our exploration of Main Street will allow us to reflect on a diverse range of topics and themes, including Norman Rockwell images, soda fountains, Disney theme parks, suburbs, the Cold War, and debates contrasting Wall Street and Main Street. Readings and films will include  It’s a Wonderful Life , Sherwood Anderson’s  Winesburg Ohio , Sinclair Lewis’  Main Street , Lorraine Hansberry’s  A Raisin in the Sun , and Richard Yates’  Revolutionary Road .


All Syllabi

Course Type

First-Year Program: Interdisciplinary Seminars (FIRST-UG)