AMS 356 • Main Currents in American Culture since 1865
8:00 AM-9:30 AM
This interdisciplinary survey explores various cultural and social transformations in American society from the post-Civil War era to the present. Broadly construed, this course will examine the relationship between culture, technology, industrialization, urbanization, and American identity (using race, gender and class as ways to analyze Americas multicultural society) over the last century and a half. After a brief, introductory exploration of the enormous social, cultural and economic changes wrought by the Civil Warthe bloodiest conflagration in American historywe will study the cultural landscape of a rapidly industrializing society in which roaring locomotives created a new sense of time and national identity . Our journey will take us from the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad to the moon landing and internet. Along the way, we will also consider the rise of the consumer society, the birth of mass culture, immigration, overseas expansion, modernism, feminism, regionalism, the new leisure culture, and the enduring mythology of the self-made man/woman. Our examination of American culture is interdisciplinary and broadly defined to include fine arts, sports, music, literature, popular culture, architecture, anthropology, social thought, the built environment and material culture. Ultimately, our goal is to investigate and evaluate how multiple Americansfrom presidents to the dispossessedhave made sense of explosive social transformations through cultural forms.
Reading List (Please Note: This will likely change): Horatio Alger, Ragged Dick Jack Johnson, Jack Johnson is a Dandy: An Autobiography Sinclair Lewis, Babbitt Studs Terkel, Hard Times Chester Himes, If He Hollers Let Him Go Tony Horwitz, Confederates in the Attic