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

Summer 2009

AMS f370 • Property in American Culture-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
81145 MTWThF
11:30 AM-1:00 PM
mez 1.102
Thompson, S.

Course Description

Former President George W. Bush frequently refered to the United States as an "ownership society." Indeed, the ownership of property has been among the central tenets of an American sense of belonging and citizenship from the colonial period to the present. And yet for certain segments of society, ownership and property have been very troubling ideas. Dispossessed of and removed from ancestral homelands, Native American nations have been forced to reconfigure their relationship to land and ownership. Struggles over the sanctity of burial grounds and the recovery of sacred objects have forced the United States to confront its assumptions regarding ownership. Their bodies literally turned into property to be bought and sold on the market, African Americans have attempted to recast themselves as citizens with property rights even in the face of large-scale violence and institutional racism. The property and citizenship duties of wives once subsumed under the name and title of husbands, women's property has consistently troubled the relationship between work and the home, and between public and private realms. This course explores American conceptions of property over a wide range of economic transformations from the mercantile to the digital age, paying special attention to the ambiguous and tension-filled meanings of property for Women, African Americans and Native Americans.

Grading Policy

3 short papers (2-3 pgs.): 10% each 1 longer paper (8-10 pgs.): 30% 1 oral presentation and outline: 20% participation and prepared-ness: 20%


Possible Texts: Solomon Northrup, Twelve Years a Slave Gloria Anzuldua, Borderlands/La Frontera Andrew Ross, Celebration Chronicles Nicholson Baker, The Mezzanine And a course packet


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