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

Spring 2009

AMS 311s • Coming of Age in America-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
29250 MWF
1:00 PM-2:00 PM
BUR 228

Course Description

The concept of the adolescent 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. In this course we will examine the historical rise of adolescence. 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 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 multiple writing assignments of varying lengths throughout the semester. Students will also be required to give an oral presentation at the end of the semester.

Grading Policy

Film Response Paper: 15% Reading Response Papers: 25% Seminar Paper: 35% In-Class Oral Presentation: 15% Class Participation: 10%


Possible Texts Joe Austin and Michael Willard, Generations of Youth: Youth Cultures and History in Twentieth-Century America H.G. Bissinger, Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream Lucy Larcom, A New England Girlhood: Outlined from Memory Anne Moody, Coming of Age in Mississippi Curtis Sittenfeld, Prep


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