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

Fall 2007

AMS 315 • Shop Til You Drop: Consumer Culture in America-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
30380 MWF
11:00 AM-12:00 PM
BUR 228

Course Description

From our daily barrage of advertising to our national passion for e-bay and shopping malls, Americans live in an unprecedented culture of consumption. Is this a good thing? A bad thing? Or maybe something that can teach us more about who we are? In this course, students will investigate the historical development of consumerism and its various effects from pre-colonial America to the present. We will undertake these explorations through a variety of lenses, including cultural history, economic theory, anthropology, sociology, psychology, and media studies. Students will have an opportunity to compare the meaning of goods and luxuries at various times and places; to trace the changing attitudes toward consumption in the United States over time; to explore the role of consumption in both national and personal identity construction and presentation; and to interrogate the ways in which differences of class, race, ethnicity, and gender impact consumption and its meanings.

Grading Policy

Participation: 5% Quizzes, short writing assignments, paper drafts: 10% Reading response paper (4-6 pages): 15% Position paper: (5-7 pages): 25% Final paper (6-8 pages): 25% Final exam: 20%


Lizabeth Cohen, A Consumers' Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America, 2003 Sinclair Lewis, Babbitt, 1922 Peter N. Stearns, Consumerism in World History, 2001 Required course packet


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