AMS 356 • Main Currents of American Culture Since 1865
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
This course surveys U.S. cultural history from the Civil War to the present. We will examine the history of America through the lens of culture using methodology from an interdisciplinary approach grounded in American studies. We will explore major transformations and themes as we work chronologically as well as travel back and forth in time to understand the significant ideas and social and cultural practices that shaped America's national consciousness. In particular, we will explore how the U.S. emerged as a nation from the late nineteenth through the twentieth century and assess the ways in which this nation defined itself vis-à-vis the rest of the world. Along with these questions, we will also investigate the cultural and social trends that shaped intellectual and political debates and analyze the cultural productions that reflect and refract those historical moments. Uncovering various sites of culture, we will attempt to reconstruct and deconstruct different media including books, films, political cartoons, television shows, music, fashion, and other forms to understand their significance. The following themes will be covered in this class: U.S. nationalism, the rise of industrialization and consumer culture; debates over immigration and citizenship; U.S. imperial expansion; race, gender, class, and sexuality in popular representations; and much more.
Paper (25%) Midterm (30%) Final Exam (35%) Participation (10%) (attendance, quizzes, extra-credit, blackboard discussions, and other optional activities)
Possible Texts Janet M. Davis, The Circus Age Anzia Yezierska, Bread Givers Carlos Bulosan, America Is in the Heart Elaine Tyler May, Homeward Bound Susan Douglas, Where the Girls Are Luis Alberto Urrea, The Devil's Highway