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

Fall 2005

AMS 355 • Main Currents of American Culture to 1865

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
28090 TTh
9:30 AM-11:00 AM
UTC 4.110

Course Description

In 1587, Sir Walter Raleigh sent a colony of 117 English men, women and children to settle the windswept dunes of Roanoke Island, along the Outer Banks of modern-day North Carolina. Within three years, the colonists had vanished and no trace of them was ever found. The only piece of evidence was a word carved on an old door post, Croatoan, the name of a friendly neighboring Indian tribe. Yet over the course of the next two hundred and fifty years, a seemingly unabated flood of immigrants from England, Europe and Africa would help transform the cultural landscape of North America. This interdisciplinary course explores various cultural currents in American society from the first moments of European contact to the conflagration of the Civil War. Throughout the course, we will consider a central question: how did a disparate and contentious conglomeration of Native Americans, British and European colonists, Southwestern Chicanos, indentured servants and African slaves all come to see themselves as distinctly American? How did various Americans articulate (and contest) abstract political concepts like citizenship, republicanism, and democracy through religious practices, street parades, architecture, songs, traveling fairs, novels, paintings, museum displays, theater, and social reform? How did this fragile, shared national identity collapse in 1861 with the onset of the Civil War?


Tentative Reading List (there will be six books in all): Mark Kurlansky, Cod Kathryn Derounian-Stodola, ed., Womens Indian Captivity Narratives Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, A Midwifes Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard Bruce Olds, Raising Holy Hell Alfred F. Young, The Shoemaker and the Tea Party Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Toms Cabin Henry David Thoreau, Walden Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl


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