AMCULT 204 - Themes in American Culture
Section: 003 Fall and Rise of American Empire
Term: FA 2017
Subject: American Culture (AMCULT)
Department: LSA American Culture
Credits:
4
Requirements & Distribution:
HU
Consent:
With permission of instructor.
Repeatability:
May be elected twice for credit. May be elected more than once in the same term.
Primary Instructor:

When in 1775 thirteen North American colonies moved to overthrow British rule, they delivered a major blow to European empire in the New World. In 1823, as a continuation of the young republic's anti-colonial stance, President James Monroe vowed to stop any European expansion into the Americas beyond what had been established in the 18th century. And yet, in 1819 the Monroe administration obtained congressional funding to help the privately run American Colonization Society establish the colony of Liberia on the West African coast. In gratitude for Monroe's support, American settlers named their capital Monrovia. Why was Monroe's attitude to West Africa so different from his attitude to the Americas?

Some twenty-five years after Liberia the United States fought an expansionist war with Mexico (1846-1848), which yielded territories that later became the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, and Utah. In the process Mexicans who now found themselves on the other side of the new border would eventually lose their lands. In 1893 the United States annexed what had been the sovereign nation of Hawaii, and then in 1898 it defeated Spain, seizing Guam, Cuba, and Puerto Rico, while also purchasing the Philippines for the bargain price of $20 million. Using military force to crush anti-American opposition among the inhabitants of these islands, the United States now boasted an emerging empire in both the Pacific and the Caribbean. (Evidence of this empire still exists: Hawaii is now a state, and U.S. still owns Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Puerto Rico; Guam; and the U.S. Virgin Islands.)

But is an empire always about grabbing foreign territory? From the point of view of Native Studies and many historians of the West, the entire expansion of the United States from the original Thirteen Colonies to the Pacific Ocean constitutes an bloody act of imperialism, since the original Native American inhabitants fought tooth and nail against the U.S. army.

Today, long after the demise of old European empires the United States as a superpower is expected to intervene in anti-totalitarian revolutions around the world, and since 9/11 U.S. troops have invaded and occupied entire nations, as was the case with Iraq, and is the case now with Afghanistan. With the ongoing "War on Terror" the U.S. practices extra-judicial drone killings of suspected enemies, and listens in on the private conversations of almost any individual, be they ordinary American citizens, or foreign heads of state.

Given its far reach, is the United States now the face of 21st-century empire? If the destiny of every empire is to rise and then fall, when will "the end" arrive for the United States?

Students are encouraged to form their own answers to these questions by reading and discussing the burgeoning scholarship and popular journalism on American imperialism, in conjunction with a host of primary historical and cultural material, including but not limited to fine art, photography, film, print and electronic media, music, fiction, and poetry.

Course Requirements:

Since this is a writing-intensive course each student will be expected to complete two research papers, an argumentative paper, and several shorter assignments requiring close readings of texts and images.

Intended Audience:

First and second-year students in LSA Honors Program

AMCULT 204 - Themes in American Culture
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
P
26862
Open
15
4Ugrd
-
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM
002 (LEC)
P
30956
Open
15
 
-
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM
003 (LEC)
 
30967
Closed
0
 
-
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM
Note: LSA HONORS Y1 AND Y2
004 (DIS)
P
30972
Closed
0
 
-
W 12:00PM - 1:00PM
Note: LSA HONORS Y1 AND Y2
005 (DIS)
P
30974
Closed
0
 
-
F 1:00PM - 2:00PM
Note: LSA HONORS Y1 AND Y2
006 (LEC)
P
31038
Open
15
 
-
MW 11:30AM - 1:00PM
007 (SEM)
P
34541
Open
11
 
-
MW 2:30PM - 4:00PM
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