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Steven Hoelscher, Chair Burdine 437, Mailcode B7100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-7277

Spring 2006

AMS 394 • Literature of American Studies

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
28705 T
2:00 PM-5:00 PM
GAR 301

Course Description

This seminar tries to partially answer the question what does it mean to use interdisciplinary sources? Everyone says that American Studies is interdisciplinary, but what exactly does that mean? If it means anything, it notes that we will use all types of different sources to come to our conclusions. If we are writing about abolitionism, we should use not only William Lloyd Garrison's speeches and his newspaper The Liberator but also novels, plays, slave, narratives, conventions, John Browns actions, etc. But one would not analyze Harpers Ferry and Uncle Toms Cabin the same way. In this course we will analyze eleven primary sources of different methodologies. Each will be examined from its genre. What does it mean when one is looking at an autobiography? How is it different from looking at a biography or even a memoir? What special questions especially involving accuracy does one have to face? We will deal with the following genres: nature writing, novels, photography, social reform, autobiography, music, popular culture, self-help, art history, regionalism, science writing, environmentalism, planning, architecture, spiritualism, journalism, and ethnography. Obviously some books cover more than one genre. Some, especially at the beginning of the class, are classics; others are not. Each is chosen as an excellent representation of the genre. Since each work represents a different historical period, we will also need to place it within its historical context. One would analyze Uncle Toms Cabin differently from Beloved as well.


The following eleven texts will be required Thomas Jefferson Notes on the State of Virginia Harriet Beecher Stowe Uncle Tom's Cabin Jacob Riis How the Other Half Lives (Dover text only) Alan Lomax Mister Jelly Roll Dale Carnegie How to Win Friends and Influence People Stephan Biel American Gothic Rachel Carson Silent Spring Jane Jacobs Death and Life of Great American Cities Kathleen Norris Dakota: A Spiritual Autobiography Frances Fitzgerald Cities on a Hill Jay Mechling On My Honor: Boy Scouts and the Making of American Youth


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