FT 08-E Chicago: Its History, Arts, Politics, People, and Places
Tobey C. Herzog, Department of English
Carl Sandburg described Chicago as “Hog Butcher for the world, / Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, / Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler, / Stormy, husky, brawling, / City of the Big Shoulders.” Frank Sinatra sang about Chicago that “Bet your bottom dollar you’ll lose the blues in Chicago, Chicago, the town that Billy Sunday couldn’t put down.” The Chicago of 2007 retains some of the distinctive Midwest features and spirit described in Sandburg’s poem and Sinatra’s song. But the “second city” (a label Chicagoans seem to embrace as a badge of honor), with its world-class architecture and museums, striking skyline, stunning shoreline, and Millennium Park’s public art, has become a “city in a garden” with an international reputation. (Chicago’s reputation is enhanced by its recent selection as the U.S. entry to be the host city for the 2016 Olympic Games.) However, “the Windy City” today is also defined by its past—people and events. These include Jane Addams, Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe, Ida B. Wells, Al Capone, Louis Armstrong, Studs Terkel, Saul Bellow, Mike Royko, Richard J. Dailey, and Harold Washington; the “Great Fire of 1871,” the Haymarket Riot, the 1893 Columbian Exposition, the Pullman Strike, the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, the first controlled atomic reaction, the 1968 Democratic Convention, the 1992 “Great Chicago Flood,” and the White Sox sweep of the 2005 World Series. In this tutorial devoted to Chicago’s history, arts, politics, people, and places, we will first read Robert Spinney’s City of Big Shoulders to establish our historical framework. Then, we will read selections about Chicago written by famous authors, such as Dreiser, Sandburg, Lardner, Bellow, Maya Angelou, and others. And we will read selections about famous and not-so-famous Chicagoans. We will also view documentaries about Chicago’s history and architecture, as well as films set in Chicago. Finally, students will select particular areas of interest related to Chicago and pursue their own reading and research. The tutorial is taught by an English professor who just happens to be a part-time resident of Chicago, a life-long White Sox fan, and a Chicago flaneur.