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Department of American Studies
Please describe specifically which underrepresented group or groups in the United States will be studied.
We will look at the multiple experiences of diverse Americans living in the southern United States—including, for instance, African American, Native American, Hispanic, and Asian southerners. In addition, we will carefully study the intersections of race, class, and gender in both individuals and cultural definitions in the American South.
What are typical readings in the course or class related to Cultural Diversity in the United States?
Three of the four primary monographs in the class directly relate to cultural diversity: Tara McPherson. Reconstructing Dixie: Race, Gender, and Nostalgia in the Imagined South (Durham: Duke, 2003). (Specifically theoretical text about competing ideas of cultural diversity in the myths and realities of the south. Especially focuses on women’s underrepresentation in the history and politics of the South.) Brian Donovan. Hard Driving: The Wendell Scott Story (New York: Random House, 2008). (Biography of the first African American man to drive in NASCAR’s elite circuit) John T. Edge, ed. Foodways, Vol. 7, New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture (Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 2007). (Includes sections on the foodways of underrepresented groups such as Asian, Latino/a, Cherokee, Jewish, and African American southerners. The book emphasizes an understanding of the historical forces that marginalized and yet developed coherent race and ethnicities in southern food.) In addition, articles in the class also explore cultural diversity. They include pieces on Mexican workers in Tyson’s poultry plants, multilingual education in southern secondary schools, southern hip-hop’s racial politics, and the uses of gender roles in creating southern race hierarchies.
Describe typical assignments related to Cultural Diversity in the United States.
The course’s weekly response papers, which are two-page papers circulated at the beginning of the class period and used to provoke discussion of the week’s readings, ask students to explicate the readings’ arguments, connect the writings on cultural diversity to their own experiences, and synthesize the (sometimes contradictory) perspectives of our readings. Because the class begins with the McPherson book, these response papers and the class discussions they begin are always asking Which South? According to whom? Who is excluded? Both the exams and class research portfolio require students to compare and contrast the experiences of different races, classes, and genders of southerners in their answers. They must demonstrate an understanding of the shared practices and beliefs of marginalized groups outside of the mainstream mythologies of southern culture.
Please explain how at least one-third of the course grade is based on content related to Cultural Diversity in the United States.
Every assignment in the class, response papers (20%), midterm and final exams (40%), and research portfolio (40%) must address cultural diversity within the US South. To successfully complete the assignments, students must demonstrate an historical understanding of marginalized groups within the South (in terms of race, gender, and/or ethnicity). They must discuss how the groups cohere as well as interact with mainstream definitions of “The South.” And they must be able to distinguish competing perspectives between cultural groups in the southern United States.
Return to Proposal Tips: Cultural Diversity.