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

Fall 2009

AMS 310 • Introduction to American Studies

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
29820 TTh
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
pai 3.02

Course Description

Partially fulfills legislative requirement in American History. This course introduces students to the tools, methods, and core concerns of American Studies by examining debates over citizenship, immigration, separatism, and national belonging in U.S. history and culture. How do Americans at large deal with and represent those who immigrated forcibly to the United States? To those who inhabited North America before the arrival of Europeans? To those who claim to be more fully American than others? Though largely a nation of immigrants, questions surrounding what constitutes a citizen have been debated since the country's founding. Though nearly all types and classes of people have contributed to the complexities of American culture, their official standings as U.S. citizens have been challenged. The gray area between informal and certifiable citizenship generates inconsistencies and hypocrisies that can be effectively investigated over time and across ethnic, economic, and political lines.

While the contradiction between cultural contributions and sanctioned citizenship will provide the substance of this class, the cross-disciplinary nature of American Studies will make up its structure. By reading a combination of secondary and primary sources each week, students will become American Studies scholars themselves by actively engaging with texts through written assignments and research projects. These research projects will be based on topics assigned during the first few weeks of the course and developed incrementally during the semester. And while this is a lecture course, classes will integrate small-group discussion and in-class reflections to incorporate students and their reflections into the course. Successful students will leave the class equipped to: 1. Discuss the varied cultural, artistic, and historical expressions relating to citizenship in the United States over time. 2. Employ the interdisciplinary nature of American Studies by critically engaging primary documents and secondary criticism to interpret the American past. 3. Conduct college-level research and writing.

Grading Policy

Daily In-Class Reflections and Attendance: 20% Research Profile: 30% Midterm and Final Exams: 25% each


Possible Texts Jean H. Baker, Sisters: The Lives of America's Suffragists George Sanchez, Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, Culture, and Identity in Chicano Los Angeles, 1900-1945 Abraham Cahan, Yekl Lawson Fusao Indad, Only What We Could Carry: The Japanese American Internment Experience Martin Luther King, Jr., Why We Can’t Wait Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Carol Swain and Russ Neili, Contemporary Voices of White Nationalism


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