School of History

HST7331 - Consumer Cultures: The United States from 1760s to the 1960s

How did the USA become the ultimate nation of consumers?

Module code: HST7331

Credits: 30

America's relationship with consumption has always been contentious. Founded on the strength of a consumer boycott in the eighteenth century, the US had become the ultimate nation of consumers by the middle of the twentieth century.

How did this transformation take place and what did it mean for American culture and society? By examining how Americans created their habits of consumption, this module will explore how consumerism shaped multiple aspects of American life: from courtship, sex and gender roles to citizenship and the nation's imperial ambitions.

We will use a variety of critical approaches, including the study of economic networks and commodities, the examination of cultural hegemony, gendered histories of consumption and the vast abundance of visual and material culture  

We will aim to answer the question: what is consumer culture and what effect has it had on American life?