PS Politics & Culture: The Progressive Era



Zeit/Ort n.V.:

  • Mo 10:15-11:45, Raum C 303

Voraussetzungen / Organisatorisches

This seminar is for those students specializing in American Studies and for those in General Studies who need credits in a "kulturwissenschaftliches Proseminar".
In American Studies it fulfils the "Politics & Culture Proseminar" requirement (Modul 201; 6 ECTS), in General Studies the "Proseminar Culture" (Zwischenmodul II) requirement (Modul 211; 5 ECTS).


The Progressive Era in American history (1890s-1920s) is commonly known as such because of a series of wide-ranging social and political reforms that extended from women's suffrage and Prohibition to the creation of the Federal Reserve System in 1913. Many of the most well-known writers and journalists from this period, including Jacob Riis, Lincoln Steffens, Ida Tarbell and Upton Sinclair exposed levels of corruption, waste and scandal in highly influential national magazines and newspapers such as TIME magazine and McClure's. Many of these writings, in turn, were successful in bringing about change. Nevertheless, some viewed these investigative journalists as less reformists than "muckrakers", the latter being a term popularized by President Theodore Roosevelt. In this seminar, we will work closely with a selection of muckraking journalism from the magazines McClure's, Munsey's, Cosmopolitan, Collier's Weekly, and others. We will also read Upton Sinclair's The Jungle| (1906), a classic work from/about the period, and Jacob Riis's |How the Other Half Lives (1890), as well as analyze Riis's photography and photo journalism. Other writings will include work by Theodore Dreiser, Lincoln Steffens, and Ida Tarbell. The aim of this seminar is double-fold: we will look at how the Progressive Era has been documented in literature and cultural narratives, journalism, photography and painting (e.g. The Ashcan school) but also, conversely, how these different forms of media themselves played a significant role in creating and sustaining the Progressive Era, with its characteristic social fervor and political reform.

Empfohlene Literatur

Upton Sinclair. |The Jungle| (1906). Norton Critical Editions. ISBN-13: 978-0393977790 Jacob Riis. |How the Other Half Lives| (1890). Norton Critical Editions. ISBN-13: 978-0393930269 All other reading material will be circulated electronically before the beginning of the semester.