AMCULT 205 - American Cultures
Fall 2020, Section 001 - The Italian Mafia
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  Online (see other Sections below)
Subject: American Culture (AMCULT)
Department: LSA American Culture
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Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


This course incorporates history, anthropology, social theory, literature, testimony and movies to analyze a “typically Italian” social phenomenon, the mafia. From its historical origin in nineteenth-century Sicily to its global reach today, we study the mafia as a cultural phenomenon, a social structure, a form of terrorism, and a challenge to international policing. Topics covered include representations of the mafia as an indigenous Sicilian movement, protecting the property and the rights of Sicilians; laws enacted to fight the mafia; and the anti-mafia, a youth movement that works to reclaim land and property from the mafia. We study the spread of mafia crime in the US, from New Orleans in the nineteenth century to New York, Las Vegas, and Chicago in the twentieth century. Students also research the little-known history of the Detroit mafia, who exploited the presence of the auto industry and the Teamsters Union, the proximity of the Canadian border, and their ties in Sicily, between Prohibition and the 1990s.

Class Format:

As a DC (Distance due to COVID) course, all aspects of this course will be fully compatible with remote online learning. Lectures for this course will combine synchronous and asynchronous components. Synchronous online attendance will be required for a portion of Monday class time and for Thursday discussion sections. Grades will be based on attendance of and participation in synchronous class sessions, asynchronous online quizzes, contributions to class research (completed online, synchronously and asynchronously), and a final reflection paper.


AMCULT 205 - American Cultures
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
MW 1:00PM - 2:30PM
002 (DIS)
Th 9:00AM - 10:00AM
003 (DIS)
Th 10:00AM - 11:00AM
004 (DIS)
Th 12:00PM - 1:00PM

Textbooks/Other Materials

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Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

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