AMS f356 • Main Currents of American Culture Since 1865
11:30 AM-1:00 PM
At the end of the Civil War, American society became flooded with new technologies, ideas, and customs. A society which had bewildered earlier American visitors in its diversity and creativity accelerated its already frantic pace. This course attempts to identify and describe some of the major elements of the "booming, buzzing , confusion" of changing American culture and relate their impact upon the lives of some common and not so common Americans.
This is a large order, especially in a shortened summer session so I will concentrate upon key historical periods as representatives of intensive social and intellectual change: the period from 1890 to the start of World War I; the 1920s and 30s; and from the end of World War II to until the present. Material in the course will be interdisciplinary and will include material from such perspectives as anthropology, architecture, art history, documentary photography, economics, literature, history of science, social history, social reform, and technology. It also tries to include the experiences and perspectives of as many different groups as possible. Reading will be heavily oriented toward the individual's own words and behavior as they lived through history.
A midterm and final tests
Possible Texts Horatio Alger Ragged Dick and Mark the Match Boy Les Standiford Meet You in Hell: Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and the Partnership That Transformed America Edward Larson Summer for the Gods William Doyle An American Insurrection: The Battle of Oxford, Mississippi 1962 Thomas Frank What's the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America