Old map of Chicago with lakefront

Reading Chicago: History and Sociology of the City


This course was available in the past and may be presented again as part of the Open Enrollment curriculum.

This course will read relatively new books on Chicago history, politics, and sociology.  This session will look at the Chicago Fire of 1871, the administration of Harold Washington, and the problems of health care disparity and community violence.   This is the first of a three-quarter series. Reading choices and topics will vary each semester.

Course Outline

Required Texts:

Ansell, David A. The Death Gap: How Inequality Kills. Enlarged Edition with Forward by Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and Afterword by David Ansel. University of Chicago Press, May 2021. ISBN-13: ‎ 978-0226796710

Biles, Roger. Mayor Harold Washington: Champion of Race and Reform in Chicago. University of Illinois Press, 2020. ISBN-13: ‎ 978-0252085482

Smith, Carl. Chicago’s Great Fire: The Destruction and Resurrection of an Iconic American City. Grove Press, 2020. ISBN-13: ‎ 978-0802159120

Vargas, Robert. Wounded City: Violent Turf Wars in a Chicago Barrio. Cambridge: Oxford University Press, 2016. ISBN-13: ‎ 978-0190245917

Recommended Text:

Spinney, Robert G. City of the Big Shoulders: A History of Chicago. Dekalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2020. ISBN-13: ‎ 978-1501748967


Online registration deadline: Thursday, Sept 22 at 5 pm CT.

Course Syllabus