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

Fall 2006

AMS 390 • American Space and Place

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
30055 T
2:00 PM-5:00 PM
BUR 228
Hoelscher

Course Description

This graduate seminar will investigate the power of space and place in American culture. It takes as its starting point an apparent paradox embedded in the heart of globalization: at exactly the same time that the very political-economic processes that would seem to homogenize place--to render the globe "placeless"--in fact increase its importance. "Place-bound identities, David Harvey notes, "become more rather than less important in a world of diminishing spatial barriers to exchange, movement, and communication. Thus, globalized flows of capital, population, goods, and terrorism not only bring the world together, but they tear it apart. At the center of this irony is the United States itself: a space created with an ideal of liberty, equality, individual opportunity, and social improvement, but set in a place of profoundly uneven patterns of wealth, crime, and pollution. We will address this contradiction from a range of multidisciplinary literatures--American studies, geography, anthropology, architecture, sociology, history, and cultural studies--and by examining both theoretical materials and empirical case studies.

This course will be conducted as seminar with open discussion of the assigned readings and other course materials. I expect that students will come to class well prepared to present and respond to discussion questions and ideas about the readings.

Texts

TENTATIVE READING LIST (a sampling of the kinds of materials we will read in this class) Margaret Kohn, Brave New Neighborhoods: The Privatization of Public Space William Leach, Country of Exiles: The Destruction of Place in American Life Karal Ann Marling, Graceland: Going Home with Elvis Richard R. Flores, Remembering the Alamo: Memory, Modernity, and the Master Symbol Doreen Massey, For Space Mitchell Duneier, Sidewalk Roderick Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind George Chauncey, Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1914 Lucy R. Lippard, The Lure of the Local: Senses of Place in a Multicentered Society Luis Alberto Urrea, The Devil's Highway: A True Story Yi-Fu Tuan, Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience

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