How did railroads shape corporate America?

Mon, Sep 25

Guest Speaker: Dr. Joshua Specht

Josh Specht Resize

Dr. Specht is an environmental and business historian of the United States. His first book, Red Meat Republic: A Hoof-to-Table History of How Beef Changed America (Princeton University Press, 2019) explores how American rich and poor came to expect affordable high-quality fresh beef. The book further outlines the human and environmental costs of this abundance.

He has also written on the evolutionary history of the Texas longhorn, the rise and fall of western boomtowns, the field of commodity history, and questions of pedagogy. His current work examines politics and institutions in nineteenth-century America through the lens of political-ecology.

One such institution--and one of the most important in understanding the history of the American experiment--is the railroad. In his lecture, Dr. Specht will invite you to think more about the historical relationship between American trains and, say, GrubHub robots than you ever have before.


Read This:

Unless otherwise noted, access readings on the course's Perusall page via Canvas.

  1. Richard White, Railroaded, ch. 1 ("Genesis") [2011]

Do This:

  1. Look over this 1855 organizational diagram of the New York and Erie Railroad.