Students consider the invention of the automobile as a vehicle for understanding North American
cultural and economic history. By exploring the revolutionary impact of the automobile, students
examine the context and status of its invention, its relationship to environmental and
socioeconomic factors, and current trends and priorities in auto-mobility, urban planning, and
- Describe the evolution of the American System of production and the origins of the modern
- Explain the origins and development of mass manufacturing and its corollary, mass
- Demonstrate an understanding of the unique social conditions that gave rise to Fordism and
Sloanism, their global influence, and their connections with Scientific Management and
- Demonstrate an appreciation of the nature of the relationship between the American military
complex and America’s global dominance in auto-mobility and automotive production.
- Analyze the effect of mass motorization on African Americans, women, and low income
- Assess the theoretical possibilities of Social Construction of Technology for understanding
- Analyze the influence of auto manufacturers on advertising, consumption, transportation
choices, and urban design in North America.
- Contextualize the postwar decline of North American auto-centrism, and the evolution of
safety and environmental concerns against the current social and economic realities effecting
automotive development and consciousness.
Unit 1: Automotive Historiography and Theoretical Approaches
Unit 2: Interchangeable Parts and the American System of Production
Unit 3: Bicycles to Automobiles and Steam to Electric
Unit 4: Taylorism, Fordism, and Modernity
Unit 5: Middletown in the 1920s
Unit 6: Growing a Market—Advertising, Planned Obsolescence, and the Power of Lead
Unit 7: Mussolini of Detroit
Unit 8: Arsenal of Democracy
Unit 9: Motorization and the Highway Lobby
Unit 10: Halcyon Days
Unit 11: Second Thoughts
Unit 12: A New Century
Required text and materials
The following materials are required for this course:
- Volti, R. (2006). Cars and culture: The life story of a technology. Baltimore, MD:
Johns Hopkins University Press.
Type: Textbook. ISBN: 9780801883996
Please be aware that should your course have a final exam, students are responsible for the fee to the online proctoring service, ProctorU, or to the in person approved Testing Centre. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about this.
To successfully complete this course, students must achieve a passing grade of 50% or higher on
the overall course, and 50% or higher on the final mandatory exam.
|Assignment 1: Reading Notes
|Assignment 2: Reading a Car
|Assignment 3: Primary Documents, “Driving it Home”
|Assignment 4: Research Essay
|Final Examination (mandatory)
Open Learning Faculty Member Information
An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Students will receive the necessary contact information at the start of the course.