Skip Navigation
UT wordmark
College of Liberal Arts wordmark
ams masthead
Steven Hoelscher, Chair Burdine 437, Mailcode B7100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-7277

Randolph Lewis

Professor Ph.D., American Studies, 1994, University of Texas at Austin

Randolph Lewis

Contact

Biography

Dr. Lewis writes about media, art, and surveillance in the postwar US. In his first book, Emile de Antonio: Radical Filmmaker in Cold War America (2000), he detailed the collision of media and society in sixties America. In 2006 he published the first book devoted to an indigenous filmmaker, Alanis Obomsawin: The Vision of a Native Filmmaker, and then published Navajo Talking Picture: Cinema on Native Ground in 2012. Along with David Delgado Shorter (UCLA), Dr. Lewis is also co-editor of a book series called "Native Film" for the University of Nebraska Press. He is currently researching a book on surveillance culture in the contemporary US. 

Beginning in 2011 Dr. Lewis has been working with an editorial board of graduate students to produce End of Austin, a digital humanities project that explores urban identity in the fastest growing city in the US. Read more about the project here

In recent years, he has also published articles on the politics of The Dark Knight, Italian photography, video surveillance in sacred spaces, the ethics of Borat, and the lack of compassion in mainstream media. Earlier in his career, Dr. Lewis was a contributing writer to The Brooklyn Rail and co-editor of a book with Thomas F. Staley on the writer Stuart Gilbert, who was part of James Joyce's circle of intellectuals in Paris in the 1920s. He also published articles on Langston Hughes, the history of chain gangs, and the evolution of American Studies. 

Alongside his writing projects and teaching, Dr. Lewis has maintained an interest in film production. He co-produced a documentary film with Dr. Circe Sturm that explores the cultural connections between Sicily and East Texas, something that piqued his interest after a year teaching as a Senior Fulbright Lecturer in Catania, Sicily. Their film is called Texas Tavola: A Taste of Sicily in the Lone Star State and has been screened at a number of universities and conferences. He has also produced music videos and works of video art that have appeared in galleries. For more information about Dr. Lewis’s work in general, please check out this interview. Students interested in American Studies are always welcome to drop by his office or contact him via email. 

 

Courses Taught 

Dr. Lewis’s major teaching fields are Cinema Studies, Media Studies, and American cultural history, especially of the twentieth century. He enjoys sharing his intellectual passions in large lecture courses such as “Main Currents in American Culture” as well as small seminars such as “The Politics of Creativity,” “Cinema of Subversion,” “Teaching American Studies,” and “Documenting America.” He expects future offerings to include “Approaches to Media Studies,” “The Culture of Surveillance,” and other courses that explores the intersection of art, politics, and technology. He is particularly excited about courses in which students create enduring collaborative projects, such as the graduate students who produced a documentary website entitled “The End of Austin” in Fall 2012. 

Media Appearances

 

Dr. Lewis on UT's "Knowledge Matters" Web Series

 

Interests

surveillance culture, cinema studies, documentary expression, indigenous media, the intersection of art and politics broadly conceived, creative nonfiction/experimental scholarship, digital humanities, unorthodox urban studies, public scholarship, film and video production

AMS 356 • Main Curr Amer Cul Since 1865

30995 • Fall 2014
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm BUR 134
(also listed as HIS 356K )
show description

Stretching chronologically from the Civil War to the contemporary anxieties of postmodern America, this course will touch upon a wide variety of questions: What is the American dream? What keeps us from achieving it? What is the nature of dissent? What are our responsibilities to one another? Underneath all of these concerns is a basic question: What should America be? We will delve into this by exploring the ways in which writers, artists, politicians, and intellectuals have provided both confident visions and devastating critiques of American society, in the form of artful essays, bold manifestos, innovative fiction, and powerful cinema. By focusing on social thought broadly defined, I hope to share with you the challenge and excitement of thinking critically about what American democracy has been as well as what it could be. As we move from the utopian novels of the late 19th century to the contemporary “war on terror,” I hope you will gain a sense not only of the historic struggle over the soul of America, but also a sense of how that struggle continues today, indelibly marked by the rhetoric and reality of the past.                  

 

Requirements

Students are expected to attend class regularly, participate in classroom discussion in a civil and constructive manner, and complete assigned readings in a timely fashion. In addition to unannounced quizzes on the readings to ensure that we are all keeping up with the readings, there will be three major exams.

 

Possible Texts

Molly Haskell, Frankly, My Dear: Gone with the Wind Revisited

Dale Carpenter. Flagrant Conduct: The Story of Lawrence v. Texas

Torin Monahan, Supervision: An Introduction to the Surveillance Society

Jonathan Lethem, Fear of Music

Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward

James Weldon Johnson, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

Joan Didion, Slouching Toward Bethlehem

Miranda July, No One Belongs Here More Than You

 

Upper-division standing required. Partially fulfills legislative requirement in American History.

Flag(s): Cultural Diversity 

 

AMS 370 • The Politics Of Creativity

31020 • Fall 2014
Meets TTH 800am-930am BUR 228
show description

This course is an interdisciplinary investigation of artists in American society, including (but not limited to) Richard Pryor, Banksy, Jimi Hendrix, the Yes Men, Kara Walker, Michael Moore, Dorothea Lange, Anna Deveare Smith, Guillermo Gomez-Pena, Spike Lee, David Lynch, and anonymous street artists. In addition to studying individual photographers, musicians, writers, comedians, architects, and filmmakers who have made powerful statements about American culture and its history, we will be looking at the changing function of art in our society in recent decades. Our fundamental questions will often explore the intersection of art and politics: How have American artists conceptualized the United States visually, aurally, and in literature? How have they envisioned American identities? What mythologies about the United States they endorsed or defied? The course will investigate these and other questions about the roles that artists have played in our recent cultural history.

 

Requirements

Class participation and weekly journals:     30%    

Presentation:                      20%

5-7 page paper:                  20%

10-12 page research paper:    30%

 

Possible Texts

Octavia Butler, Kindred

Richard Ross, The Architecture of Authority

Dave Eggers, The Circle

Andrew Boyd, Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for Revolution  

Richard Zoglin, Comedy at the Edge: How Stand-up in the 1970s Changed America

HD Thoreau, Walden

Alison Bechdel, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic.

Molly Haskell, Frankly, My Dear: “Gone With the Wind” Revisited

Anna Deveare Smith, Twilight: Los Angeles

David Mamet, Glengarry Glen Ross

Bart Beaty, David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence

Ed Guererro, Do The Right Thing

 

Upper-division standing required. Students may not enroll in more than two AMS 370 courses in one semester.

Flag(s): Writing

 

AMS F391 • Doing Public Scholarship

81490 • Summer 2014
Meets MTWTHF 1000am-100pm SAC 5.102
show description

Open to all graduate students in the College of Liberal Arts.

This interdisciplinary graduate seminar will explore the quickly evolving landscape of public scholarship. Focusing on the creative, intellectual and professional possibilities now emerging in the field, this course will be open to all graduate students willing to work in a fast-paced, collaborative context. Using a praxis-based approach that emphasizes doing as much as discussing, the course will culminate in a joint project that enables students to appreciate the transformative potential of public scholarship in the digital age.

AMS 398T • Supv Teaching In American Stds

31260 • Spring 2014
Meets T 100pm-400pm BUR 436B
show description

Graduate standing required. Permission from instructor required.

AMS 370 • The Politics Of Creativity

30875 • Fall 2013
Meets MW 330pm-500pm BUR 228
show description

This course is an interdisciplinary investigation of artists in American society, including (but not limited to) Anne Bradstreet, Junot Diaz, Kara Walker, Talking Heads, Jimi Hendrix, Walt Whitman, Michael Moore, Dorothea Lange, Marlon Riggs, Bob Dylan, Anna Deveare Smith, Guillermo Gomez-Pena, Spike Lee, David Lynch, and anonymous street artists. In addition to studying individual photographers, musicians, writers, and filmmakers who have made powerful statements about American culture and its history, we will be looking at the changing function of art in our society over the past 400 years. Our fundamental questions will often explore the intersection of art and politics: How have American artists conceptualized the United States visually, aurally, and in literature? How have they envisioned American identities? What mythologies about the United States they endorsed or defied? The course will investigate these and other questions about the roles that artists have played in our cultural history.

 

Requirements

Class participation and weekly journals:                  30%    

Presentation:                  20%

5-7 page paper based on a visit to the Blanton Museum of Art:                  20%

10-12 page research paper:                  30%

 

Possible Texts

Anna Deveare Smith, Twilight: Los Angeles

David Mamet, Glengarry Glen Ross

Bart Beaty, David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence

Guillermo Gomez-Pena, Dangerous Border Crossers: The Artist Talks Back

Ed Guererro, Do The Right Thing

Malcolm Cowley, Exile’s Return

Robert Coles & Dorothea Lange, Dorothea Lange: Photographs Of A Lifetime

Bob Dylan, Chronicles

Eleanor Coppola,Notes On The Making Of Apocalypse Now

Miranda July,No One Belongs Here More Than You

 

Upper-division standing required. Students may not enroll in more than two AMS 370 courses in one semester.

Flag(s): Writing

 

AMS 390 • Surveillance Culture

30905 • Fall 2013
Meets M 1100am-200pm BUR 436B
show description

Consent from Instructor Required

Description

Surveillance is everywhere: Facebook, smart phones, TSA scanners, Predator drones, nosy neighbors, Big Data marketing, spyware. “Big Brother” now has many different faces, some designed to intimidate, others designed to entice our cheerful participation. This course will provide a wide-ranging American Studies approach to this volatile and important subject. Working from an interdisciplinary perspective that will bring the sociologically-based research of surveillance studies into conversation with humanities scholarship related to art, film, history, architecture, and affect, we will explore the psychology, poetics, and politics underlying the institutionalization of insecurity. What is driving the vast market for surveillance on an affective and ideological level? What are the hidden costs of living in a “control society” in which surveillance is deemed essential to neoliberal governance? And what are the strategies for creative resistance that enable new forms of biopolitics in the age of surveillance? These are the central questions in a course that will weigh the impact of surveillance on privacy, dignity, autonomy, creativity, and emotion.

Possible Texts

Shoshana Amielle Magnet’s When Biometrics Fail: Gender, Race, and the Technology of Identity

Zygmunt Bauman and David Lyon’s Liquid Surveillance

Sandra Philips (ed.), Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera

Anna Vemer Andrzejewski’s Building Power: Architecture and Surveillance in Victorian America

Melissa Gregg’s Work's Intimacy

Rachel Dubrovsky’s The Surveillance of Women on Reality Television: Watching The Bachelor and The Bachelorette 

Trevor Paglen’s Blank Spots on the Map: The Dark Geography of the Pentagon's Secret World

Garret Keizer’s Privacy

Daniel Trottier’s Social Media As Surveillance: Rethinking Visibility in a Converging World 

Kenneth Cukier’s Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think

Wendy Brown’s Walled States

George Orwell’s 1984

Sébastien Lefait’s Surveillance on Screen: Monitoring Contemporary Films and Television Programs

John Gilliom and Torin Monahan’s Supervision: An Introduction to the Surveillance Society

Viktor Mayer-Schonberger’sDelete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age

Selected articles

 

AMS 398T • Supv Teaching In American Stds

30885 • Spring 2013
Meets TH 900am-1200pm BUR 436B
show description

Description

Teaching in an interdisciplinary field such as American Studies can be exhilarating and daunting in equal measure. Whether we are seasoned teachers or just starting out, we are often faced with a number of difficult and sometimes pressing questions. How do we pick a route through our material that will be pedagogically effective and intellectually meaningful? How do we craft strong lectures, lead stimulating discussions, and ensure thoughtful evaluation of our students and ourselves? And at a deeper level, how do we develop a teaching philosophy that reflects our own analytical, creative, and ethical selves?

In a manner both practical and theoretical, this course will explore these questions at a challenging time for US higher education. In addition to developing concrete strategies for improving our pedagogical skills, we will situate our own aspirations as scholar-teachers within larger sociological, historical, and philosophical debates over the nature and purpose of good teaching.  

Requirements

Development of a syllabus for a course you expect to teach; preparation of a short lecture to be delivered in-class for peer critique; interview with a faculty member about their teaching; regular attendance and informed participation in class discussion.

Possible Texts

B. G. Davis's Tools for Teaching

Louis Menand's The Marketplace of Ideas

Gaye Tuchman's Wannabe U: Inside the Corporate University

AMS 356 • Main Curr Amer Cul Since 1865

30680 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 930am-1100am BUR 134
(also listed as HIS 356K )
show description

Stretching chronologically from the Civil War to the contemporary anxieties of postmodern America, this course will touch upon a wide variety of questions: What is the American dream? What keeps us from achieving it? What is the nature of dissent? What are our responsibilities to one another? Underneath all of these concerns is a basic question: What should America be? We will delve into this by exploring the ways in which writers, artists, politicians, and intellectuals have provided both confident visions and devastating critiques of American society, in the form of artful essays, bold manifestos, innovative fiction, and powerful cinema. By focusing on social thought broadly defined, I hope to share with you the challenge and excitement of thinking critically about what American democracy has been as well as what it could be. As we move from the utopian novels of the late 19th century to the contemporary “war on terror,” I hope you will gain a sense not only of the historic struggle over the soul of America, but also a sense of how that struggle continues today, indelibly marked by the rhetoric and reality of the past.                  

 

Requirements

Students are expected to attend class regularly, participate in classroom discussion in a civil and constructive manner, and complete assigned readings in a timely fashion. In addition to unannounced quizzes on the readings to ensure that we are all keeping up with the readings, there will be three major exams.

 

Possible Texts

David A. Hollinger and Charles Capper, The American Intellectual Tradition: Vol. II, 5th edition

Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward

James Weldon Johnson, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

Joan Didion, Slouching Toward Bethlehem

Miranda July, No One Belongs Here More Than You

 

Upper-division standing required. Partially fulfills legislative requirement in American History.

Flag(s): Cultural Diversity

AMS 398T • Supv Teaching In American Stds

30945 • Spring 2012
Meets TH 1000am-100pm BUR 436B
show description

Notes

Graduate standing required. Permission from instructor required.

Description

Teaching in an interdisciplinary field such as American Studies can be exhilarating and daunting in equal measure. Whether we are seasoned teachers or just starting out, we are often faced with a number of difficult and sometimes pressing questions. How do we pick a route through our material that will be pedagogically effective and intellectually meaningful? How do we craft strong lectures, lead stimulating discussions, and ensure thoughtful evaluation of our students and ourselves? And at a deeper level, how do we develop a teaching philosophy that reflects our own analytical, creative, and ethical selves?

In a manner both practical and theoretical, this course will explore these questions at a challenging time for US higher education. In addition to developing concrete strategies for improving our pedagogical skills, we will situate our own aspirations as scholar-teachers within larger sociological, historical, and philosophical debates over the nature and purpose of good teaching.  

Requirements

Development of a syllabus for a course you expect to teach; preparation of a short lecture to be delivered in-class for peer critique; interview with a faculty member about their teaching; regular attendance and informed participation in class discussion.

Possible Texts

B. G. Davis's Tools for Teaching

Louis Menand's The Marketplace of Ideas

Gaye Tuchman's Wannabe U: Inside the Corporate University

AMS 390 • Documenting America

30670 • Fall 2011
Meets W 200pm-500pm BUR 436B
show description

"Documenting America: Approaches to Creative Nonfiction." Participants in this graduate seminar will delve into the complex nature of documentary expression, with an emphasis on film and photography (but an openness to to other media). In addition to exploring some key figures, concepts, and problems in the struggle to represent reality in the US in the usual manner of a graduate seminar, this course will also include a workshop component in which we develop individual and collaborative projects. Students may expect the traditional graduate seminar for 2/3 of the semester, with workshop weeks comprising the other third. Assignments will reflect a similar balance between practice and theory.

Requirements

As noted above, this course will blend theory and practice (based on the belief that the two are interdependent). Consequently, we will have somewhat shorter than usual research papers to allow space and time for creative nonfiction projects at different points in the semester. No previous experience in documentary is required.

 

Possible Texts

Trinh Minh-ha, Digital Film Event

Alexandra Juhasz, F Is For Phony: Fake Documentary And Truth's Undoing

Jonathan Kahana, Intelligence Work The Politics of American Documentary

Doug Kellner, Emile De Antonio: A Reader

Patricia Zimmermann, States of Emergency: Documentaries, Wars, Democracies

Michael Renov, Theorizing Documentary

Herzog on Herzog

Robert Brent Toplin, Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11": How One Film 

Divided a Nation

Sol Worth and John Adair, Through Navajo Eyes: An exploration in Film 

Communication and Anthropology

Brian Winston, Claiming the Real: Documentary: Grierson and Beyond

(and various articles)

AMS 356 • Main Curr Amer Cul Since 1865

30875 • Spring 2011
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm PAR 201
(also listed as HIS 356K )
show description

Description

Stretching chronologically from the Civil War to the contemporary anxieties of postmodern America, this course will touch upon a wide variety of questions: What is the American dream? What keeps us from achieving it? What is the nature of dissent? What are our responsibilities to one another? Underneath all of these concerns is a basic question: What should America be? We will delve into this by exploring the ways in which writers, artists, politicians, and intellectuals have provided both confident visions and devastating critiques of American society, in the form of artful essays, bold manifestos, innovative fiction, and powerful cinema. By focusing on social thought broadly defined, I hope to share with you the challenge and excitement of thinking critically about what American democracy has been as well as what it could be. As we move from the utopian novels of the late 19th century to the dystopic rampage at Columbine in 1999, I hope you will gain a sense not only of the historic struggle over the soul of America, but also a sense of how that struggle continues today, indelibly marked by the rhetoric and reality of the past.  

 

Requirements

Students are expected to attend class regularly and complete assigned readings. In addition to unannounced quizzes on the readings, there will be three major exams.

 

Possible Texts

David A. Hollinger and Charles Capper, The American Intellectual Tradition: Vol. II

Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward

James Weldon Johnson, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

Joan Didion, Slouching Toward Bethlehem

Miranda July, No One Belongs Here More Than You

Dave Cullen, Columbine

A course packet of shorter readings

 

Upper-division standing required. Partially fulfills legislative requirement in American History.

Flag(s): Cultural Diversity

AMS 386 • Cultural Hist Of Us Since 1865

30925 • Spring 2011
Meets TH 200pm-500pm BUR 436B
show description

Notes

Graduate standing required. 

Students also required to attend undergraduate lectures, AMS 356, T Th 11-12:30.

Description

This seminar is taught in conjunction with a large undergraduate course entitled “Main Currents in American Culture Since 1865” (AMS 356). For reasons both pedagogical and intellectual, graduate students will attend the undergraduate lectures and complete most of the related readings. However, graduate students will have an additional set of readings that will run parallel to the undergraduate texts. Comprised of significant works of scholarship in the American Studies tradition broadly conceived, these secondary texts will invite a deeper engagement with the key issues in the lecture course, including political violence, utopian/dystopian thought, racism, consumerism, affect, and dissent.

Requirements

Weekly response papers, thoughtful in-class participation, and a final bibliographic essay.

Possible Texts

Secondary readings may include Janet Staiger, Ann Cvetkovich, and Ann Reynolds, eds., Political Emotions; Frederic Jameson, Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions; Amy Louise Wood, Lynching and Spectacle: Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1890-1940; Anna Froula, et al, Reframing 9/11: Film, Popular Culture and the "War on Terror”; Sue Davis, The Political Thought of Elizabeth Cady Stanton; Howard Brick, Age of Contradiction: American Thought and Culture in the 1960s; Jackson Lears, Fables Of Abundance: A Cultural History Of Advertising In America; Michael Johnson, Hunger for the Wild: America's Obsession With the Untamed West.

Primary Readings will include David A. Hollinger and Charles Capper, The American Intellectual Tradition: Vol. II, 5th edition (Oxford); Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward (Bedford edition edited by Daniel Borus); James Weldon Johnson, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (Vintage); Joan Didion, Slouching Toward Bethlehem (Flamingo; 978-0007115228); Miranda July, No One Belongs Here More Than You (Scribner’s; 978-0743299398); Dave Cullen. Columbine (Twelve; 978-0446546935). 

AMS 370 • Politics Of Creativity

29645 • Fall 2010
Meets TTH 500pm-630pm MEZ 1.212
show description

Description

This course is an interdisciplinary investigation of artists in American society, including (but not limited to) Anne Bradstreet, Kara Walker, Walt Whitman, Michael Moore, Dorothea Lange, Marlon Riggs, Bob Dylan, Guillermo Gomez-Pena, Spike Lee, and David Lynch. In addition to studying individual photographers, musicians, writers, and filmmakers who have made powerful statements about American culture and its history (in effect, using art for cultural critique), we will be looking at the changing function of art in our society over the past 400 years. Our fundamental questions will often explore the intersection of art and politics: How have American artists conceptualized the United States visually, aurally, and in literature? How have they envisioned American identities? What mythologies about the United States they endorsed or defied? The course will investigate these and other questions about the roles that artists have played in our cultural history.

 

Requirements

Class participation and weekly journals:                  30%    

Presentation:                  20%

5-7 page paper based on a visit to the Blanton Museum of Art:                  20%

15 page research paper:                  30%

 

Possible Texts

Ed Guererro, Do The Right Thing

Robert Rodriguez, Rebel Without A Crew: Or How A 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became A Hollywood Player

Charlotte Gordon, Mistress Bradstreet: The Untold Life Of America’s First Poet Leaves Walt Whitman, Of Grass

Malcolm Cowley, Exile’s Return

Robert Coles & Dorothea Lange, Dorothea Lange: Photographs Of A Lifetime

Joan Didion, Slouching Toward Bethlehem

Bob Dylan, Chronicles

Eleanor Coppola, Notes On The Making Of Apocalypse Now

Miranda July, No One Belongs Here More Than You

Bart Beaty, David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence

Guillermo Gomez-Pena, Dangerous Border Crossers: The Artist Talks Back

 

Upper-division standing required. Students may not enroll in more than two AMS 370 courses in one semester.

Flag(s): Writing

AMS 370 • Politics Of Creativity-W

29830 • Spring 2010
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm MEZ 1.120
show description

AMS 370: The Politics of Creativity: Art & Society in the US
 29830      T/TH   3:30 - 5:00    MEZ 1.120
Dr. Randolph Lewis, American Studies Dept. randolph.lewis@mail.utexas.edu
Office hours: Thursday 1-3 in HRC 3.328 + by appt.

“Really good art and literature is always political—perhaps all the more so the less directly it seems to be. In a way (I’m being provocative here, but I believe this, too), engaging with the symbolic order directly, with the realm of meaning, hacking right into its source code, is more radical than taking meaning for granted in order to simply make a statement.” – novelist Tom McCarthy

Description
This course is an interdisciplinary investigation of art as cultural critique in American society, and in it we will explore key issues in a variety of genres and forms.  In addition to studying photographers, painters, musicians, writers, and filmmakers, we will also look at artists who have combined different kinds of creative expression.  How have American artists conceptualized the United States visually, aurally, and in literature?  What ideas about America have they celebrated?  What mythologies about the United States has art endorsed or defied?  How have artists in different time periods gone against the grain of American ideology?  How have they envisioned American identities?  The course will investigate these and many other issues as the semester progresses.

Books
The following books are REQUIRED for this course and are available for purchase at the University Coop.  If you choose to procure your books elsewhere, it is your responsibility to make sure that you have them in your possession by the time we discuss them in class.  

Do The Right Thing (Ed Guererro: BFI; 978-0851708683)
Leaves Of Grass (Walt Whitman: Penguin; 978-0140421996)
Exile’s Return (Malcolm Cowley: Penguin; 978-0140187762)
Impounded: Dorothea Lange and the Censored Images of Japanese American Internment (Linda Gordon, Norton, 978-0393060737)
No One Belongs Here More Than You (Miranda July; Scribner’s; 978-0743299398)
David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence (Bart Beaty; U of Toronto Press; 978-0-8020-9622-7)
Twilight Los Angeles (Anna Deveare Smith; Anchor Books; ISBN-13: 978-0385473767)
Glengarry Glen Ross (David Mamet; Grove Press; ISBN-13: 978-0802130914)
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. (Alison Bechdel; Mariner Books; 978-0618871711)
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Junot Diaz; Riverhead Books; 978-1594483295)

On occasion I will also ask you to read supplemental material that will be handed out, or to study images on websites. We may also have a few film screenings outside of class time. If you are unable to make the screening time, it is your responsibility to contact the professor and arrange an alternative way of seeing the film.


Grading
Class participation and weekly journals (30%).   
Presentation (20%)
Short paper based on a visit to the Blanton Museum of Art (20%)   
12-15 page research paper (30%)

Requirements
Class participation and weekly journals (30%).   You must hand in (not email) a thoughtful response to the materials under discussion on Tuesday; it must be approximately 1 ½ to 2 pages long, typewritten in complete sentences, and demonstrate criticism or analysis of the artist/art work at hand.  You must turn in 10 responses over the course of the semester, and they will be letter graded. I will not accept late journals.  Please note that in the past, students who have otherwise turned in “A” work to the instructors have been penalized for inadequate journal entries in final grade calculations. You should take these assignment seriously, for it will also aid your class participation grade by helping you frame thoughts for discussion.  It also gives me one of my best indications of the quality of your engagement with the material. As well, please be advised that perfect attendance is NOT the same as active and constructive class participation. This is a seminar that requires the sustained engagement of participants to succeed: if you come to every class but contribute only minimally to discussions this portion of your grade will suffer.  Also, when calculating your grade I will take into consideration the enthusiasm and spirit in which your comments are rendered—in other word, attitude counts. Please be on time to class and silence the ringer on your cell phone so that we are not interrupted.

Presentation (20%).  For most weeks in the class, one or more of you will give a presentation on a topic related to the artist we are studying.  The presentation should last 15 minutes; then we will spend 5 minutes on questions and answers.   A list of presentation options is listed in the syllabus.  All will require outside research and in order to receive full credit, you must hand in an outline and a bibliography (of at least 3 sources) on the day you present.  The point of the presentation is to enable you to demonstrate your oral communication skills, so Powerpoint and other supplemental computer applications are not permitted unless images are under discussion. It is strongly suggested that on the class before your presentation, you check in with the instructor before or after class to make sure you are on the right track. The key to doing well on the presentation is to present a line of analysis, not a mini-biography of the artist; if you are just telling us where they were born, where they went to high school, and other such information, you are probably not making an interesting argument about the work. I can make copies of hand-outs for you if need, but only if you give them to me a day or two in advance.

A short paper, due March 11 after we visit the Blanton Museum of Art (20%).  More details on this assignment will be forthcoming.

A research paper, due on Tuesday, May 18, before noon in Burdine 437 (30%).  To receive full credit for this assignment, you must submit a prospectus by March 30th.You will lose points on the final paper if you switch topics after this point without my consent, or if you do not have a plausible idea for the final project by March 30th. By plausible I mean that you have spent some time thinking about the topic AND have done some preliminary research on the subject, enough so that you have a clear idea of what you are getting into and whether it is fruitful/interesting/possible. You will also need to submit a draft of this final paper to a peer review process. You will then need to incorporate that feedback into the final draft that is due in our normally scheduled exam period. We do not have a final exam.

Controversy caveat: please drop this class if you are easily offended by controversial images or ideas, or if you are unable to discuss them in a manner befitting our academic setting.


PRESENTATION OPTIONS
Maya Lin and the Vietnam memorial controversy
James Hannaham’s novel God Says No (queer fiction)
Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice (re: writer G. Stein)
Adam Curtis’s political filmmaking regarding the contemporary US
Performance artist Guillermo Gomez-Pena’s Dangerous Border Crossers
Photographer/writer Eleanor Coppola’s Notes On The Making Of Apocalypse Now
Smoke Signals (Native American film)
Spike Lee’s Bamboozled.
Photographer David Levinthal
Photographer William Christenberry (Klan photos on Southernspaces.org)
Photographer Laura Greenfield’s Girl Culture
Performance artist Guillermo Gomez-Pena’s Dangerous Border Crossers: The Artist Talks Back
Painter Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks” as emblematic text
Bio-artist Steve Kurtz / Strange Culture (artist as terrorist?)
Barry Shank’s Dissonant Identities: The Rock'n'Roll Scene in Austin, Texas
Diego Rivera’s Rockefeller murals controversy
Robert Rodriguez’s Rebel Without A Crew and the DIY ethos
Ralph Ellison’s classic novel Invisible Man
Shut up and Sing (Dixie Chicks controversy)
Filmmaker David Lynch’s Catching the Big Fish
The politics of Andy Warhol
Painter Norman Rockwell
Scholar Cary Cordova on Mexican-American muralists in the 1960s
Jack Kerouac’s On the Road
Chapter about iconic napalm photo from the book No Caption Required
Pop surrealist painter Isabel Samaras’ On Tender Hooks
Artist Ron English’s Abraham Obama
Artist Shepard Fairey


Schedule
Jan 19  Introduction
Jan 21  Creative Class and Cultural Critique (readings to be emailed)
Jan 26  Whitman. Selections from Leaves [Lynch]
Jan 28  Ginsberg’s “Howl” (online); [Keroauc]
Feb 2  Exiles Return first half [Stein]
Feb 4  Exiles Return 2nd half [Dissonant Identities; On the Road]
Feb 9  Chicago Ten
Feb 11  Chicago Ten [Adam Curtis; Strange Culture; napalm photo]
Feb 16  Dorothea Lange on Japanese-American internment [Diego Rivera in NYC]
Feb 18  Presentations [Levinthal; Christenberry; Greenfield; No Caption Required]
Feb 23  Oscar Wao [Gomez-Pena; Cordova]
Feb 25  “American Gothic” [“Nighthawks”; Maya Lin]
Mar 2  Field trip to Blanton Museum
Mar 4  Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross
Mar 9  Mamet II (HRC?) PAPER 1 DUE
Mar 11  Fun Home [Hannaham’s God Says No]
Mar 15-20  Spring Break
Mar 23  Research Paper “How To” Workshop
Mar 25  Do The Right Thing [Smoke Signals; Abraham Obama]
Mar 30  Kara Walker [Ellison; Bamboozled]     * PROSPECTUS DUE
Apr 1  Twilight Los Angeles
Apr 6  History of Violence [Eleanor Coppola]
Apr 8  Presentations [R Rodriguez; Dixie Chicks; Shepard Fairey]
Apr 20  Thomas Kinkade [Rockwell; Warhol; On Tender Hooks]
Apr 22  Peer review workshop
Apr 27  Scanner Darkly
Apr 29  Scanner Darkly
May 4  Miranda July
May 6  Conclusions
 
Remember: Final Paper due in our exam period

Presentation possibilities in brackets: you will choose one


The Fine Print: Various University Notices and Policies
University of Texas Honor Code
The core values of The University of Texas at Austin are learning, discovery, freedom, leadership, individual opportunity, and responsibility. Each member of the university is expected to uphold these values through integrity, honesty, trust, fairness, and respect toward peers and community. Each student in this course is expected to abide by the University of Texas Honor Code. Any work submitted by a student in this course for academic credit will be the student's own work. You are encouraged to study together and to discuss information and concepts covered in lecture and the sections with other students. You can give "consulting" help to or receive "consulting" help from such students.  However, this permissible cooperation should never involve one student having possession of a copy of all or part of work done by someone else, in the form of an email, an email attachment file, a diskette, or a hard copy. Should copying occur, both the student who copied work from another student and the student who gave material to be copied will both automatically receive a zero for the assignment. Penalty for violation of this Code can also be extended to include failure of the course and University disciplinary action. During examinations, you must do your own work. Talking or discussion is not permitted during the examinations, nor may you compare papers, copy from others, or collaborate in any way. Any collaborative behavior during the examinations will result in failure of the exam, and may lead to failure of the course and University disciplinary action.

Use of E-mail for Official Correspondence to Students
Please do not use the class email for selling football tickets or other activities unrelated to our course. All students should become familiar with the University's official e-mail student notification policy.  It is the student's responsibility to keep the University informed as to changes in his or her e-mail address.  Students are expected to check e-mail on a frequent and regular basis in order to stay current with University-related communications, recognizing that certain communications may be time-critical. It is recommended that e-mail be checked daily, but at a minimum, twice per week. The complete text of this policy and instructions for updating your e-mail address are available at   http://www.utexas.edu/its/policies/emailnotify.html.

Documented Disability Statement
Any student with a documented disability who requires academic accommodations should contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at (512) 471-6259 (voice) or 1-866-329-3986 (video phone).  Faculty are not required to provide accommodations without an official accommodation letter from SSD. Please notify me as quickly as possible if the material being presented in class is not accessible (e.g., instructional videos need captioning, course packets are not readable for proper alternative text conversion, etc.). Please notify me as early in the semester as possible if disability-related accommodations for field trips are required.  Advanced notice will permit the arrangement of accommodations on the given day (e.g., transportation, site accessibility, etc.).Contact Services for Students with Disabilities at 471-6259 (voice) or 1-866-329-3986 (video phone) or reference SSD’s website for more disability-related information: http://www.utexas.edu/diversity/ddce/ssd/for_cstudents.php

Behavior Concerns Advice Line (BCAL)
If you are worried about someone who is acting differently, you may use the Behavior Concerns Advice Line to discuss by phone your concerns about another individual’s behavior. This service is provided through a partnership among the Office of the Dean of Students, the Counseling and Mental Health Center (CMHC), the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), and The University of Texas Police Department (UTPD). Call 512-232-5050 or visit http://www.utexas.edu/safety/bcal.

Q drop Policy
The State of Texas has enacted a law that limits the number of course drops for academic reasons to six (6).  As stated in Senate Bill 1231: “Beginning with the fall 2007 academic term, an institution of higher education may not permit an undergraduate student a total of more than six dropped courses, including any course a transfer student has dropped at another institution of higher education, unless the student shows good cause for dropping more than that number.”

Emergency Evacuation Policy
Occupants of buildings on the UT Austin campus are required to evacuate and assemble outside when a fire alarm is activated or an announcement is made.  Please be aware of the following policies regarding evacuation: Familiarize yourself with all exit doors of the classroom and the building. Remember that the nearest exit door may not be the one you used when you entered the building. If you require assistance to evacuate, inform me in writing during the first week of class. In the event of an evacuation, follow my instructions or those of class instructors. Do not re-enter a building unless you’re given instructions by the Austin Fire Department, the UT Austin Police Department, or the Fire Prevention Services office.

AMS 356 • Main Curr Amer Cul Since 1865

29950 • Fall 2009
Meets TTH 930-1100 BUR 116
show description

AMS 356: "Main Currents of American Culture Since 1865"

Dr. Randolph Lewis, Associate Professor, American Studies Department

Fall 2009 / Tuesday/Thursday 9:30-11:00 / BUR 116

randolph.lewis@mail.utexas.edu; office hours: Tuesday 1-4 pm, HRC 3.328

“There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.” – Martin Luther King

Course Description

Stretching chronologically from the Civil War to the contemporary anxieties of postmodern America, this course will touch upon a wide variety of questions: What is the American dream? What keeps us from achieving it? What is the nature of dissent? What are our responsibilities to one another? Underneath all of these concerns is a basic question: What should America be? We will delve into this by exploring the ways in which writers, artists, politicians, and intellectuals have provided both confident visions and devastating critiques of American society, in the form of artful essays, bold manifestos, innovative fiction, and powerful cinema. By focusing on social thought broadly defined, I hope to share with you the challenge and excitement of thinking critically about what American democracy has been as well as what it could be. As we move from the utopian novels of the late 19th century to the dystopic rampage at Columbine in 1999, I hope you will gain a sense not only of the historic struggle over the soul of America, but also a sense of how that struggle continues today, indelibly marked by the rhetoric and reality of the past. 

 

Grading

Students are expected to attend class regularly, participate in classroom discussion in a civil and constructive manner, and complete assigned readings in a timely fashion. In addition to unannounced quizzes on the readings to ensure that we are all keeping up with the readings, there will be three major exams. Exam 1 will be weighted 20%; Exam 2 will be 25%; Exam 3 will be 25%. The remaining 30% is devoted to unannounced quizzes on the readings that will encourage you to attend class and keep up with the readings. We will have 12 such quizzes. Because there are no make-up quizzes for any reason, we will drop the lowest 2 quizzes and the remaining 10 will count.

 

 

Teaching Assistant

Your T.A. is Andrew Jones. His office hours will be from 10:00-11:30 in Caffe Medici (2222 Guadalupe Street- next to the CVS). His email is andrewjones@mail.utexas.edu.

 

 

Required texts
David A. Hollinger and Charles Capper. The American Intellectual Tradition: Vol. II, 5th edition (Oxford).

Edward Bellamy. Looking Backward (Bedford edition edited by Daniel Borus).

James Weldon Johnson. The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (Vintage).

Joan Didion. Slouching Toward Bethlehem (Flamingo; 978-0007115228)

Miranda July. No One Belongs Here More Than You (Scribner’s; 978-0743299398)

Dave Cullen. Columbine. (Twelve; 978-0446546935)

Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49

To save you some expense, there are a few online readings, for which I will provide the URL.

 

 

 

Important Dates

September 7  (Monday) Labor Day holiday.

November 26-28  (Thursday–Saturday) Thanksgiving holidays.

December 3  (Thursday) Last class day for our class.

Final Exam: Friday December 11, 2p to 5p

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Schedule

 

8/26 Introduction

 

9/1 Myth and Reality in American Culture

Read for today: Nacirema analysis that I will email to you.

 

9/3 Utopian Dreams: Individualism vs. Collectivism

Read Bellamy’s Looking Backward, including Daniel Borus’s introduction, for today.

 

9/8 Utopia II: Looking Backward

Read: “Going Dutchhttp://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/03/magazine/03european-t.html

 

9/10 Rags to Riches and Back Again: Alger/Twain/West on Success

read: http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/AlgBoun.html

Twain satire: http://www.washburn.edu/sobu/broach/badboy.html

 

9/15 Individualism and Women’s Rights: The Case of Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Read: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, "The Solitude of Self" (1892)

 

9/17 Salvation through Education

Thomas Wentworth Higginson’s “A Plea for Culture”

Richard Florida document to be emailed to you; you will need to watch him online

 

9/22 “The Problem of the Twentieth Century” 

W.E.B. DuBois, "Selection from The Souls of Black Folk" (1903)

Randolph Bourne, "Trans-National America" (1916)

Gunnar Myrdal’s Selection from An American Dilemma (1944)

 

9/24      The Politics of Atrocity

James Weldon Johnson, Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

 

9/29 Exam I

 

10/1 The Theory of the Leisure Class

Thorstein Veblen, Selection from The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899)

 

10/6 The Power of Dissent in 1920s America

John Crowe Ransom, "Reconstructed but Unregenerate" (1930)

Randolph Bourne, “Twilight of Idols” (1917)

 

10/8 Necessary Illusions: War Propaganda and National Identity

 reading TBA

 

10/13 The Perils of Pop Culture

Adorno and Horkheimer essay on “The Culture Industry” (online)

Clement Greenberg, "Avant-Garde and Kitsch" (1939)

 

10/15 TBA

 

10/20 All Hail the Organization Man: Postwar Conformity

Herbert Marcuse, Selection from One Dimensional Man (1964)

 

10/22 Postwar Nonconformity: Beats

 

10/27 Proto-Mad Men: Gender and Advertising in the 1950s

Betty Friedan, Selection from The Feminine Mystique (1963)

 

10/29 Revolution and Reform in 60s America

Selections from Joan Didion’s Slouching Toward Bethlehem

Martin Luther King, Jr., "Selection from "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" (1963); Malcolm X, Selection from "The Ballot or the Bullet" (1964)

 

11/3 Exam II

 

11/5 No class

 

11/10 Pomo America

Susan Sontag, "Against Interpretation" (1964)

 

11/12 “Shall I Project a World?” Drugs and Social Thought in Sixties America

Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49

 

11/17 Empire Denial

Woodrow Wilson, "The Ideals of America" (1902)

Noam Chomsky, "The Responsibilities of Intellectuals" (1967)

Samuel Huntington, “The Clash of Civilizations”

George F. Kennan selection from American Diplomacy

Einstein’s “Atomic War or Peace?”

 

11/19 Standard Operating Procedure: Does America Torture?

Read; two online articles and one in Hollinger + Capper: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/03/24/080324fa_fact_gourevitch

Also Mark Danner’s article: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/22530

Finally, read in Hollinger and Capper: Reinhold Niebuhr, Selection from The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness (1944)

 

11/24 Violence, Dystopia and the American Dream I

Read: Columbine

 

12/1 Violence, Dystopia and the American Dream II

 

12/3 Postmodern America: The Incredible Flatness of Being

Selected stories from Miranda July’s No One Belongs Here More Than You

David Foster Wallace essay (to be distributed)

 

Exam Review (to be scheduled outside class hours)

 

Exam III: Saturday December 11, 2 pm to 5 pm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

The Fine Print: Various University Notices and Policies

 

University of Texas Honor Code

The core values of The University of Texas at Austin are learning, discovery, freedom, leadership, individual opportunity, and responsibility. Each member of the university is expected to uphold these values through integrity, honesty, trust, fairness, and respect toward peers and community. Each student in this course is expected to abide by the University of Texas Honor Code. Any work submitted by a student in this course for academic credit will be the student's own work. You are encouraged to study together and to discuss information and concepts covered in lecture and the sections with other students. You can give "consulting" help to or receive "consulting" help from such students.  However, this permissible cooperation should never involve one student having possession of a copy of all or part of work done by someone else, in the form of an email, an email attachment file, a diskette, or a hard copy. Should copying occur, both the student who copied work from another student and the student who gave material to be copied will both automatically receive a zero for the assignment. Penalty for violation of this Code can also be extended to include failure of the course and University disciplinary action. During examinations, you must do your own work. Talking or discussion is not permitted during the examinations, nor may you compare papers, copy from others, or collaborate in any way. Any collaborative behavior during the examinations will result in failure of the exam, and may lead to failure of the course and University disciplinary action.

 

Use of E-mail for Official Correspondence to Students

All students should become familiar with the University's official e-mail student notification policy.  It is the student's responsibility to keep the University informed as to changes in his or her e-mail address.  Students are expected to check e-mail on a frequent and regular basis in order to stay current with University-related communications, recognizing that certain communications may be time-critical. It is recommended that e-mail be checked daily, but at a minimum, twice per week. The complete text of this policy and instructions for updating your e-mail address are available at   http://www.utexas.edu/its/policies/emailnotify.html.

 

Documented Disability Statement

Any student with a documented disability who requires academic accommodations should contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at (512) 471-6259 (voice) or 1-866-329-3986 (video phone).  Faculty are not required to provide accommodations without an official accommodation letter from SSD. Please notify me as quickly as possible if the material being presented in class is not accessible (e.g., instructional videos need captioning, course packets are not readable for proper alternative text conversion, etc.). Please notify me as early in the semester as possible if disability-related accommodations for field trips are required.  Advanced notice will permit the arrangement of accommodations on the given day (e.g., transportation, site accessibility, etc.).Contact Services for Students with Disabilities at 471-6259 (voice) or 1-866-329-3986 (video phone) or reference SSD’s website for more disability-related information: http://www.utexas.edu/diversity/ddce/ssd/for_cstudents.php

 

Behavior Concerns Advice Line (BCAL)

If you are worried about someone who is acting differently, you may use the Behavior Concerns Advice Line to discuss by phone your concerns about another individual’s behavior. This service is provided through a partnership among the Office of the Dean of Students, the Counseling and Mental Health Center (CMHC), the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), and The University of Texas Police Department (UTPD). Call 512-232-5050 or visit http://www.utexas.edu/safety/bcal.

 

Q drop Policy

The State of Texas has enacted a law that limits the number of course drops for academic reasons to six (6).  As stated in Senate Bill 1231: “Beginning with the fall 2007 academic term, an institution of higher education may not permit an undergraduate student a total of more than six dropped courses, including any course a transfer student has dropped at another institution of higher education, unless the student shows good cause for dropping more than that number.”

 

Emergency Evacuation Policy

Occupants of buildings on the UT Austin campus are required to evacuate and assemble outside when a fire alarm is activated or an announcement is made.  Please be aware of the following policies regarding evacuation: Familiarize yourself with all exit doors of the classroom and the building. Remember that the nearest exit door may not be the one you used when you entered the building. If you require assistance to evacuate, inform me in writing during the first week of class. In the event of an evacuation, follow my instructions or those of class instructors. Do not re-enter a building unless you’re given instructions by the Austin Fire Department, the UT Austin Police Department, or the Fire Prevention Services office.

 

 

Publications

Books

Navajo Talking Picture: Cinema on Native Ground. University of Nebraska Press, 2012.

Alanis Obomsawin: The Vision of a Native Filmmaker. University of Nebraska Press, 2006.

Emile de Antonio: Radical Filmmaker in Cold War America, University of Wisconsin Press, 2000.

Reflections on James Joyce: Stuart Gilbert's Paris Journal. Co-edited with Thomas F. Staley, University of Texas Press, 1993.

 

bottom border