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

Fall 2008

AMS 311s • Representing the Country and the City in Literature, Art and Film-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
29972 W
5:00 PM-8:00 PM
gar 0.120
Thompson, A.

Course Description

This course is designed to explore major themes throughout American history that focus on the sometimes complimentary, sometimes contentious, ways that the city and the country have related to one another, specifically in cultural terms. Seen in the current context of growing urbanization and suburbanization, increasing immigration to both rural and urban areas and a polarized political climate, this course is interested in examining key historical moments that clarify how this nation's rural and urban roots have developed, responded to one another, and transformed over time.

Major themes the course will examine include but are not limited to the romanticization of the small town, the ascendance of the city, the rise of consumer culture and the re-emergence of regional identity. Finally, a wide variety of films that explore both rural and urban themes will be used throughout the semester in order to more fully illuminate major events in the twentieth century that indelibly shaped country-city dynamics, from World War I to the Farm Crisis of the 1980s.

Grading Policy

In-Class Response Papers, Attendance, and In-Class Participation (25%): Students will be expected to engage with the reading material and the class by contributing thoughtful comments and discussion throughout the semester. Regular attendance is expected. Frequent unexcused absences will result in a low grade. 3-5 Page Primary Source Analysis (30%): Primary source analysis of a Farm Security Administration photograph from the Great Depression 1-2 Page Annotated Bibliography (15%): A list of preliminary sources to be used in the final research paper. Assignment must summarize each source and explain the relevance of the source to your project: 8-10 Final Paper (30%): Final papers can be on a topic of your choice as long it relates in some way to the material covered in the course. A minimum of five scholarly sources is required.


Possible Texts and Films William Cronon, Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie James Dennis, Renegade Regionalists John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath Mike Davis, City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles The Floorwalker (1916) Goldiggers of 1933 (1933) The Plow that Broke the Plains (1936) The River (1938) Shane (1953) Easy Rider (1969) Blade Runner (1982) Witness (1985)


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