AMS 311s • Coming of Age in America-W
12:00 PM-1:00 PM
The concept of the teenager is a twentieth-century phenomenon in America. It is a cultural artifact of a particular time and place, with deep roots in the histories of education, labor, leisure, and commercialism in the United States. As such, the evolution of childhood and youth in America has lasting implications in culture and society. This course examines the rise of the teenager in American culture. We will interrogate the concept of youth, paying particular attention to the parameters of age, time, place, gender, class, race, ethnicity, and sexuality. We will read biographical, autobiographical, fictional, and nonfictional accounts of youth, ranging in time and place from mid-nineteenth century New England to late-1980s Texas. We will also read a variety of engaging articles by scholars of youth culture to examine not only the content of those cultures but the ways in which youth and youth cultures have been studied and represented by academics. We will view three films in their entireties, each from very distinct periods within youth cultural studies, to explore popular representations of youth. Our goal will be to connect those representations to their larger sociohistoric contexts and achieve an understanding about how and why the various discourses surrounding youth change over time.
This course will combine lectures and discussions of topics introduced in lectures and readings. As this course is designed to stimulate critical thinking, students should be prepared to share insights and knowledge. This is also a substantial writing component course. Students will be expected to complete writing assignments of varying lengths throughout the semester.
film response paper 20% reading response papers 30% seminar paper 35% in-class presentation 15%
Possible Texts Joe Austin and Michael Willard, eds., Generations of Youth: Youth Cultures and History in Twentieth-Century America H.G. Bissinger, Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream Claude Brown, Manchild in the Promised Land Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street Lucy Larcom, A New England Girlhood: Outlined from Memory Curtis Sittenfeld, Prep Selected articles available on Blackboard and/or in a course reader