Philadelphia Story: The City as Text

Dive into America’s history using Philadelphia as a guide. Taking this course in Philadelphia will bring the city to life and offer a chance to see historical sites in person.


What stories can a city relate? What clues about American pasts might we find within—but also beneath—urban streets? Whose pasts might we uncover? Using Philadelphia as a guide, this course will explore in microcosm the American nation’s layered pasts. Course topics will range from William Penn’s first encounter with Native peoples, to the city’s role in the founding of the United States and in the negotiation of the politics of slavery and freedom, to the historical foundations and development of modern incarceration. Central to our discussions will be analysis of documentary and material sources as well as questions of memory and historical preservation.

See Historical Sites Yourself

This course gives the chance to see sites such as: Mount Moriah Cemetery, Eastern State Penitentiary, the Museum of the American Revolution, Washington’s Slave Quarters. These are only the beginning. Moreover, visiting sites throughout the city will allow for a discussion of the current controversies surrounding monuments—including monuments in Philadelphia. Overall, gain knowledge of how and why historical memories of places and people are made in the first place.

Fulfill the “Diversity” or “Humanities” Requirement

This course satisfies the core curriculum’s Diversity or Humanities requirement.

Get More Information

For more information about this course, please contact Prof. Lori Daggar.

  • Kelly Sorensen
    Corson 110F

    Cari Freno
    Ritter 103

    Jennifer King
    Thomas 220C