Input Invited on New Business History Course

15 02 2010

Next year, I will be teaching a course called HIST-3226EL Tycoons: the Making of North American Capitalism

The course is based on a history-through-biography approach to teaching. Each lecture will focus on the life and times of a particular businessperson. Their biographies will be used to show how North American capitalism evolved in a particular epoch. Important course themes include: Canadian-American relations; the rise of Big Business in the 19th century; the explosive growth of capital markets; the place of ethnic and racial minorities in capitalism; great financial disasters; the impact of break-neck technological innovation on the economy and on society;  businesses that made money from warfare; the role of business in political conflict; successful businessmen who were members of persecuted racial and religious minorities; the differences between Canadian and American political and economic culture.

Below, I have posted the list of lectures. With the exception of 10 September, every lecture is about the life and times of a particular individual. Some of these individuals are famous, but in other cases they are obscure ( I have put explanatory hyperlinks in for such cases). Anyway, I am interested in what readers of this blog think about this list of lecture topics. Is there someone really important that I need to talk about who is missing from the list? I would really appreciate your feedback at this point, as I am planning to write the actual lectures in the summer of 2010. There are only so many lectures in the course and I had to make some painful choices (for instance, I’ve had to drop the idea of doing a lecture on Andrew Mellon. I also dropped my lecture on the Black businessman A.G. Gaston).

As you can see, all of my lectures are about men. I’m a bit disappointed that I was unable to find a suitable businesswoman I could structure a lecture around.  Keep in mind, that most of my lectures have to be based on scholarly works. Moreover, this is a history course and I would not feel comfortable delivering a lecture about a middle-aged person who is still active in business (e.g., Meg Whitman). There are lots of prominent businesswomen today, but much less in the way of secondary literature on businesswomen in the period covered by my course.  So I would appreciate any suggestions readers could provide.
5 September    Introduction
Joseph Schumpeter: Prophet of Innovation
10 September    Colonial Origins of the North American Economies
12 September
Alexander Hamilton
17 September
John Molson
19 September    Sir George Simpson
24 September    Francis Cabot Lowell
26 September    Isaac Franklin,  Slave Merchant
1 October    Cornelius Vanderbilt
3 October    Luther Hamilton Holton
8 October    Sir William Christopher Macdonald
10 October    MID TERM
15 October John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil
17 October    Sir William Mackenzie: Railway King of Canada

22 October Study Week- No Class
24 October    Study Week-No Class
29 October    Erastus Wiman and Continental Union
31 October    Alexander Graham Bell  and the Telephone Revolution
5 November Andrew Carnegie: the Gospel of Wealth
7 November    Sir Joseph Flavelle: a Canadian Millionnaire
12 November    Henry Ford vs. Alfred P. Sloan: a Study in Contrasts
14 November    Chang Toy, Kingpin of Vancouver’s Chinatown
19 November    Sam Bronfman and the House of Seagram
21 November    Paul Desmarais and Power Corp.
26 November    K.C. Irving and New Brunswick
28 November    Ron Joyce: Master of the Donut
3 December    Sherman Fairchild and the Creation of Silicon Valley
5 December    Exam Review

Graham D. Taylor and Peter A. Baskerville, A Concise History of Business in Canada (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1994). ISBN-10: 0-19-540978-7
ISBN-13: 978-0-19-540978-9


Bethany Moreton, To Serve God and Wal-Mart : the Making of Christian Free Enterprise (Harvard University Press, 2009)



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