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

Spring 2009

AMS 370 • American Cultural History of Alcohol and Drugs-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
29380 TTh
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
GAR 1.134

Course Description

Most scholars of alcohol and drug use have concentrated upon its physiological aspects. It is clear that addiction and craving have a physical and, in many cases, even a genetic basis. Yet, as many anthropologists and sociologists have pointed out, cultures directly affect the types of drugs used, how they are used, and for what purposes. In addition, one can examine a culture's drug use and attitude toward it and often discover a great deal about its functioning and values. Thus, drug use is not only a cultural product but also a key social and historical descriptor. In this course, we will study both how American culture affected the use of drugs and attitudes toward them and how these serve as keys to the changing American intellectual, social, and political landscape. We will especially concentrate on alcohol, the opiates, marijuana, LSD, and crack cocaine.

Topics to be considered include proliferation of alcohol abuse in the early Republic, the fight over cigarettes, the Prohibition movement, criminalization of drugs, Alcoholics Anonymous and treatment, medical response to addiction, and the drug war and the issue of legalization.

Grading Policy

Two short analytical papers (5% each) Two reading quizzes (15% each) Class participation (20%) 15 to 20 page research paper (40%).


Possible Texts W.J. Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic: An American Tradition Cassandra Tate, Cigarette Wars: The Triumph of the Little White Slaver Michael Massing, The Fix Harry Gene Levine, Crack in America: Demon Drugs and Social Justice Nate Blakeslee, Tulia: Cocaine, Race, and Corruption in a Small Texas Town


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