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

Spring 2009

AMS 310 • Introduction to American Studies

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
29225 TTh
9:30 AM-11:00 AM
gea 105

Course Description

Henry Luce, founder and publisher of Life magazine, wrote an editorial in February of 1941 titled "The American Century" in which he declared that the United States was the most powerful and vital nation in the world and that this nation had a responsibility to mold other nations in our image. This course will explore major social and political trends of the American Century and assess the distance between the image the nation portrayed to the world and the reality of American life by focusing on the myriad experiences of the American people and the ways in which they shaped the nation. Who are we as Americans? Using the interdisciplinary methods of American Studies, this course will explore this central question by considering how various groups of Americans experienced and shaped the 20th Century. For instance, in 1903 W.E.B. Du Bois declared that the problem of the 20th Century was the problem of the color line. We will investigate the ways in which race, gender, class, sexuality, religion, and geography affected both individual experiences, as well as the development of the nation's social and political institutions. We will employ a variety of source materials, such as literature, film, photography, speeches, and music and will use a wide range of methodologies as we explore American identity, daily life, and social protest in the United States during the 20th Century.

Students are encouraged to develop the following skills in this course: " Discuss major historical trends during the 20th Century in the United States from various perspectives. " Analyze how racial, gender, class, sexual, religious, and geographic differences affect one's experience, ones relationship to other citizens, and ones relationship to the nation through critical reading and writing. " Use creative and academically rigorous interdisciplinary methods to analyze and use a variety of primary and secondary sourcestextual, visual, multimedia.

Grading Policy

This course will consist of both lectures and class discussions. Students are expected to have engaged critically with assigned readings before the class meets, bring the reading materials to lecture, and be prepared to discuss them. Assignments will include daily quizzes, a mid-term exam, a short research paper, and a comprehensive final exam. If you arrive on time and prepared for every class and class activity and participate fully, you will be well on your way to success.

Daily Quizzes & Class Participation 20% Midterm 25% Final Exams 30% Research Paper (5-7 pages) 25%


Possible Texts Harold Evans, The American Century W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath Anne Moody, Coming of Age in Mississippi Tom Wolfe, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street Larry Colton, Counting Coup


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