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

Fall 2007

AMS 310 • Introduction to American Studies: Texas as an American Studies Project

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
30315 MW
3:00 PM-4:30 PM
BUR 108

Course Description

This course provides an introduction to the tools, methods, and concerns of American Studies by taking a certain slice of the nation to see how it might illumine our understanding of the whole. And why not Texas? From the origin myth of the Alamo to pickup truck commercials, from western swing and conjunto to Tex-Mex and barbecue, from Sam Houston to LBJ to Barbara Jordan to Ann Richards, from cotton to oil to semiconductors, from the figure of the cowboy to the Dallas Cowboys, the state displays a peculiar insistence upon uniqueness within the American nation almost to the point of a sometimes playful, sometimes boastful suggestion that Texas exists as a nation unto itself. Why is this so? What does it mean? What can we learn about ideas of the American nation by looking at "the Texan," and what might we learn about Texas by thinking through the idea of "the American"? We will be testing common historical narratives and cultural representations to explore issues regarding sense of place, regionalism, race, gender, identity, and the nation in the hopes of providing provisional answers to some of these questions, as well as those other questions that might arise along the way.

Partially fulfills legislative requirement in American History.

Grading Policy

Assignments will consist of daily quizzes, an in-class mid-term, a short original research paper, and a final exam.


The core texts of the course remain to be determined, but the readings will consist of a mix of classic and contemporary readings on Texas by the likes of William Barret Travis, Mary Austin Holley, Frederick Law Olmsted, J. Frank Dobie, Walter Prescott Webb, Roy Bedichek, Ruth Alice Allen, William H. Goetzmann, D. W. Meinig, John Bainbridge, Billy Lee Brammer, Bud Shrake, Gary Cartwright, Larry McMurtry, Larry L. King, Americo Paredes, Ronnie Dugger, Archie Green, Robert Calvert, Lawrence Goodwyn, Don Graham, Neil Foley, Rebecca Sharpless, Jose Limon, Richard Flores, Jim Hightower, Barry Shank, Molly Ivins, and Manuel Pena, among others. Music and film texts will also figure largely in the course.


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