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

Marvin Bendele

Assistant Instructor PhD

Doctoral Student



M.A. American Studies, The University of Texas at Austin


Foodways, Mobility & Migration, Cultural Geography, Borderlands, Texas, Oral History, Hunting/Fishing

AMS 311S • Beat Landscps & Amer Imaginatn

29493 • Fall 2010
Meets MWF 900am-1000am BUR 228
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The farm, the inner-city, the desert, the west coast, New Orleans, Texas, the railroad car, the river – these places all conjure certain specific, many times nostalgic, images in our minds. This course will attempt to demythologize these images and ideas of place by examining geographical descriptions in various creative works throughout the twentieth century. We will spend time studying writers of the “Beat Generation” in specific cities like New York and San Francisco, examining the idea of the “unencumbered” hobo or tramp in the context of objects and places like the car, the railroad, and the wilderness, considering song lyrics from blues artists in the farming communities of the Mississippi Delta, and wade through depictions of urban slums in film and literature. We will consider the increasing mobility of American citizens in the twentieth century, the inherent power of being a mobile American, and the plight of the immobile American. In addition we will take an interdisciplinary approach to the particular social and cultural issues that arose regarding sexuality, gender, class, and ethnicity during the twentieth century due to ideas of place, space, landscape, and mobility. In doing so, we will reconsider the myths that authors, directors, and songwriters created about themselves and their places. By the end of the semester, I hope that we will better understand the complex issues surrounding the emergence of myth and its effects on the public perception of place, space, and landscape as well as the fringe, beat and destitute of America.

Course Goals:

At the end of the semester, students should be able to do or understand the following:

  1. Critically analyze images and myths of the twentieth century using an interdisciplinary approach.
  2. Apply analytical tools to contemporary issues, images, and myths.
  3. Comfortably discuss themes in the field of Cultural Geography (i.e., space, place, and landscape).



Participation and response papers                  20%

Mid-term writing assignment                         20%

Presentation                                                 20%

Final writing assignment                                40%


Possible Texts

Jack Kerouac, On the Road

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

Robert Johnson, song lyrics

Mitchell Duneier, Sidewalk

Tim Cresswell, The Tramp in America

Course Packet available at Metro Copy


Flag: Writing

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