So, at the end of a rather full Day 2, I have to admit that I’m a bit on “information overload,” so I’m a little… frazzled. As such, don’t be surprised to see some revisions on this over the next couple of days. It’s been a while since the sheer volume of information has left me felt… exhausted, yet it happened today (and I’m only in Day 1)!
This Seminar Focuses on the Empire City: New York City 1877-2001. It is hosted by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and cosponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. There is no way that I can summarize the entirety of the day, I will just try to relate on some of the experiences that I had.
The first session focused on the resources available via the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. They house thousands of primary source documents related to American History and readily make these resources available to the public. If you have not done so, check out their Affiliate School Program (entirely free), their digital collection, and resources for educators. Their focus is on the importance and practical application of primary sources – they provide documents, resources, and lesson plans for educators (incorporated into common core standards).
The morning, we focused on “The RIse of New York to National Dominance,” in which Professor Kenneth Jackson brought forth the question (and possible answers to) “Why New York? Why did New York become the most prominent and important city in the United States over others like Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc.” New York City has a unique history that has led to its (seemingly permanent) position as the economic and cultural capital of the United States. We discussed issues such as geography, economy, culture, and even ‘pure damn luck.’
The next hour we discussed the “Changing Role of Women in Post-Civil War America,” hostd by Professor Karen Markoe. She was quick to point out that investigating the role and position of 50% of the population in a century and a half period is an impossible task – yet feminist scholars always like to pigeon hole the role of women. She highlighted some common and well-recognized names: Margaret Sanger and Hetty Green (the Witch of Wall Street), but was quick to point out that we had only scratched the surface of prominent New York women.
The afternoon, we began to investigate the experience of literature in Gotham, specifically the work of Edith Wharton and her work The Age of Innocence as highlgihted by Professor John Rocco. We discussed the changing atmosphere of New York’s elite from the late 19th century through the “Jazz Age” (as higlighted by Hemmingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald) – by the way, if you have not seen the preview of the new 2012 film “The Great Gatsby” it is a highly recommend! Even if the film is terrible, the preview is amazing!
The rest of the afternoon we spent at the New York Historical Society, examining primary source documents and learning about the many, many resources available at Giler Lehrman. It was a vastly stimulating and thoroughly exhausting day… and I’m only 20% through the experience!