AMCULT 498 - Capstone Seminar in American Culture
Fall 2020, Section 004 - The Fall and Rise of American Empire
Instruction Mode: Section 004 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 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. Later, President James Monroe’s 1823 challenge to Europeans monarchs if they attempted further expansion in the Americas seemed to confirm that the US was fundamentally anti-imperialist. Yet, this stance had been earlier contradicted in 1819 when Monroe obtained congressional funding to fund the privately owned American colony of Liberia, West Africa, the capital of which (Monrovia) was named in his honor.

Some twenty-five years later the United States fought an expansionist war with Mexico (1846-1848), which yielded territories that later became Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, and Utah. In 1898 the United States annexed what had been the sovereign nation of Hawaii, while at the same time fighting a so-called anti-imperial war on Spain in support of Cuban and Filipino independence movements. But by the end of that year the United States took militarily control of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines, which then set the nation at odds with island revolutionaries.

Over one hundred years later, and long after the demise of old European empires, the United States is on the one hand vilified as the reincarnation of Imperial Rome, while also expected on the other hand to intervene in anti-totalitarian revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East. While the U.S. does not have formal colonies, American overseas “possessions” do exist, e.g., Guantanamo Bay, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, etc. Is “American Imperialism” therefore, a misnomer?

Students are asked to draw their own conclusions by analyzing a variety of historical and cultural materials (including visual culture, photography, filmmaking, fiction, poetry, political speeches, popular journalism, etc.) that continue to shape, condition, and express how Americans see themselves with respect to the rest of the world.

Class Format:

Class will meet at the stated class times to have synchronous discussions; and to complete quizzes, online group assignments, etc. All writing assignments will be asynchronous. Students will do some peer editing during the class time, but some peer editing will occur asynchronously. This course will use Canvas and BlueJeans (or a similar video conferencing service). Students should have access to an internet connected computer, a camera and microphone.


AMCULT 498 - Capstone Seminar in American Culture
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
Tu 4:00PM - 7:00PM
Partial Term 8/31/20 - 12/10/20
Note: 001: Trans Futures. Meets-with WGS 431.001
004 (SEM)
Partial Term 8/31/20 - 12/10/20
006 (SEM)
Partial Term 8/31/20 - 12/10/20

Textbooks/Other Materials

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