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

Summer 2009

AMS 310 • Introduction to American Studies

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
81202 MTWThF
1:00 PM-2:30 PM
gea 105

Course Description

Partially fulfills legislative requirement in American History. This course approaches the discipline of American Studies through the lens of the American Dream, a powerful myth that has been prominent throughout American history. For many the dream is a reality. For many it is an impossible fantasy. The myth exists within the borders of the US and is manifested by film, literature, and television. The American Dream likewise exists outside of the US and prompts millions to uproot and try to make it here every year.

In this course we will study the history of the American Dream and in the process uncover major transformations in American culture from the Colonial Era to the present. What conditions made the life of the Dream possible? What and who shaped it and caused it to continue? What challenges have been made to it? Is the American Dream the same today as it was 350 years ago? To answer these questions, we will use films, books, poetry, television programs, and music over the course of the semester to analyze the topic from as many angles as possible.

Grading Policy

Mid-term Exam Final Exam One Five Page Paper


Possible Texts Vowell, The Wordy Shipmates Alger, Ragged Dick Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby Urrea, The Devil's Highway


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