Monday, January 7, 2008


...and 425, City in History. I think that's it...i HOPE I only have 3 classes this term!

History 425
City in History
Spring ‘08
B. Farley

A fatal moment for Budapest and Hungary—the Trianon Treaty of l920.

First things first: My office is 207J in the west building. You can call me at the office(372-7357), or you can EMAIL me at OR I will always try to get back to you by the next day if at all possible. You can also call me at my ancestral estate in Pendleton, Oregon(541-276-6962). In any case, feel free to get in touch. I don’t bite and at least some people feel that my other habits are satisfactory.
My office hours face-to-face are 4-5:30 pm, Mondays and Wednesdays and whenever else you can catch me on campus. Virtual office hours are 24/7—you can email me anytime and I will try to get back to you as soon as possible, preferably by the next day.

Students with Disabilities: Accommodations are available for students with a documented disability. See Cherish Tijerna, Disability Resources Coordinator, as soon as possible to seek information or to qualify for accommodations. To make an appointment, please call 372-7352. In other words, if you have a learning disability, people and resources are available to help you.

The lowdown: Welcome to History 425, City in History. This is a course that can be done two ways, either concentrating on the role of the city in history or the role of history in a given city. I’m a fan of historical travel, so I lean to the latter rather than the former. This term, we will do an overview of four cities—New York, Budapest, Londonderry and Belfast—and focus on one or two defining events, events that shaped or made that city what it is today. In the case of New York, the Triangle Shirtwaist fire and 9-11 are an obvious touchstone; for Budapest, the ordeal of World War II and then the l956 revolution against Soviet control are both key moments in its evolution. In Londonderry and Belfast, the long-running conflict between Catholic and Protestant citizens of northern(British)Ireland has literally shaped Londonderry and divided Belfast into ethnic enclaves worthy of Iraq. We will read about, and discuss all these places and the force(s)that shaped them in the modern age.
We will have three texts this term: for New York City, City in the Sky, a history of the World Trade Center, whose demise at the hands of the cavemen ushered in the world we now inhabit. The two buildings were always, to put it mildly, star-crossed. For Londonderry and Belfast, John Conroy, Belfast Diary. John Conroy was a Chicago Tribune correspondent who volunteered to live in “The Falls,” the main Catholic neighborhood, for 8 months in the contentious year l980-81. Conroy lived in Belfast, but what he experiences was not much different than what you would’ve found in Londonderry. Then, Michael Korda’s book on the Hungarian revolution against Soviet power, which took place 62 years ago this August. 1956 was the key event in Budapest and Hungarian history in the 20th century, and Journey to a Revolution is a timely look at how the revolution affects the city 60 years later.

Evaluation: We will have two exams, one midterm and one final. Each will be worth 25%. This being a capstone course, you will also have a substantial writing assignment, which I will describe for you in the coming days.

Course objectives: To get to know three major world cities/capitals and how recent history has affected them. To look beyond the buildings and boulevards and learn something of how the history of their respective countries is or is not reflected in them. To think about what makes a great city. To become convinced of the virtues of visiting cities as certified residents of very small towns…


Part I : New York, New York

The beginnings—New Amsterdam, then New York

Revolutionary war and the making of Big Money in New York

The immigrant city

Catastrophe no. 1: Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

The vertical city, the city in the sky

The twin towers

Catastrophe no. 2: September 11, 2001 and the future of New York

Required readings: City in the Sky: Rise and Fall of the World Trade Center. All.
Recommended readings: Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. It’s kind of a kids’ book—I read it in 7th grade—but it gives all readers a real flavor of what life was like in Irish/immigrant New York circa l900. It is not a work of glowing nostalgia; it has the ring of authenticity and truth. Bernard Malamud, who died recently, wrote many works chronicling Jewish life in New York, such as The Chosen. Very worthwhile. Also, David Halberstam, Firehouse, one of the best books about 9-11, profiling the ten firefighters lost from the house closest to Halberstam’s home on the upper West Side
Recommended films: Where do you start? King Kong, Midnight Cowboy, Out-of-Towners, Odd Couple, Moscow on the Hudson, Radio Days (actually, almost anything starring Woody Allen), Once Upon a Time in America, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull (almost anything starring Robert DeNiro, who owns an expensive restaurant in lower Manhattan), The Apartment, Breakfast at Tiffany’s…and the list goes on.

First exam after conclusion of New York

Part II: Buda-Pest, tale of two cities

Buda-Pest, capital of the heart of Europe

How Buda-Pest became Budapest

Hungary and Budapest’s Golden Age

World War I and the tragedy of the Trianon Treaty

World War II and the destruction of the Hungarian Jews

Exit Nazis, enter Russians

1956: Budapest fights back

Budapest in the new Europe

Required readings: Korda, Journey to a Revolution, all.
Recommended readings: The Budapest Sun, English-language newspaper for Budapest. It isn’t a great source of hard news, but it does have interesting feature articles about the city and its culture.
Recommended film: “Sunshine,” starring Ralph Fiennes. Four generations of a Hungarian Jewish family, set in Budapest, and widely available in video stores here.

Part III: Londonderry and Belfast, cities shaped by war

Origins of Catholic and Protestant conflict

1968: beginnings of the Troubles

London-Derry, divided city in a divided country

Belfast, “Titanic town” and ethnic enclaves

1972: Bloody Sunday, Bloody Friday

Evolution of the Troubles

Londonderry and Belfast, a decade after Good Friday

Required readings: Conroy, Belfast Diary, all
Recommended readings: Eamonn McCann, War and an Irish Town, about life in Londonderry as a Catholic; Geoffrey Beattie, Protestant Boy, the life and education of a Protestant youth from Belfast.
Recommended films: “Michael Collins,” with Liam Neeson; “Patriot Games,” with Harrison Ford. Both deal with the Irish Republican Army and the Catholic perspective on the struggles; both are excellent.

Paper due date TBA before dead week. Second exam during finals week.

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