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

Summer 2004

AMS F315 • Cultural History of American Teenagers-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
81895 MTWThF
10:00 AM-11:30 AM
GAR 301

Course Description

This introductory-level course begins with a basic question: What has “growing up” meant for different generations of Americans? Guided by conventional wisdom, we tend to view turmoil-ridden adolescence as a normal phase in the life course, even as we are bombarded routinely with warnings that the latest generation of youth is the worst one yet. These claims today seem to preach to the choir. Divided by culture, politics, class, race, religion, gender, and sexuality, most American adults nevertheless generally share the expectation that their teenage children have entered their peak years of rebellion, “bad” behavior, experimentation, and self-discovery. We will examine both the experiences of actual teenagers and ideas about teenagers in different eras of American history, focusing especially on the twentieth century. Among the questions we will explore: Is adolescence a stage in the life course that transcends history? Do teenagers from distinct social groups and cultures share similar experiences? How have adults constructed institutions such as the high school or the juvenile justice system to channel the supposed energies of youth? What types of cultures have young people themselves created, and how are they rooted in the larger social conflicts of their particular historical moments? How have experts and intellectuals shaped popular attitudes about teenagers? This course also introduces students to the interdisciplinary methods of American Studies, which combines the approaches and insights of history, literature, memoir, sociology, psychology, anthropology, cultural studies, and the visual arts. Students will learn to think historically about teenagers and critically about the idea of the teenager; read and analyze a variety of texts such as film, music, visual art, literature, and academic writing; give oral presentations; evaluate primary and secondary research materials; and execute a research paper of eight to ten pages in length. Your ability to read and communicate thoughtfully will significantly determine your final grade. Keeping up with the reading schedule, viewing assigned films, completing papers in a timely fashion, and attending class meetings prepared to discuss assigned texts are each CRUCIAL!!!!


Joe Austin and Michael Nevin Willard, eds., Generations of Youth: Youth Cultures and History in Twentieth Century America Joan Jacobs Brumberg, Kansas Charley: The Story of a Nineteenth Century Boy Murderer J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye Selected articles on UT Electronic Reserve Films: Devil’s Playground (2002); The Merchants of Cool (1999); Juvies (1999)


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