Courses in American Culture (Division 315)

Unless otherwise stated, the permission required for the repetition for credit of specially designated courses is that of the student's concentration or B.G.S. adviser.

201. American Values. (4). (HU).

From the European discovery of America to the present, it has been assumed that America was a special land, a land anointed by God, chosen as the New Jerusalem, the landscape in which the millennium would occur. From John Winthrop to Ronald Reagan, America has been envisioned "as a city upon the hill," a beacon shining forth for the rest of the world. When that light has dimmed, Americans have denounced their land in a peculiar way, mourning its declension. And then they have written of what America is supposed to be, and of how a person is properly to become an American. They have undertaken their inquiry into values, proposing, often in the form of utopian visions, a reconstruction of their nation, a return to inherent values. This course will examine a few of these visions: Thoreau's Walden, Edward Bellamy's Boston in the year 2000, B.F. Skinner's Walden Two, Jack Kerouac's Dharma Bums, Mary McCarthy's North Vietnam as a new America. Such visions have changed across time, but a core of values has remained as Americans have continued to celebrate, discuss, lament, and recreate America in an ongoing obsession with the meaning of their land, values such as pastoralism, agrarianism, the work ethic, efficiency, the American as Adam, the frontier, pragmatism, anti-intellectualism, the melting pot, the self-made man, and, more recently, the self-made woman, or the belief that if the American only works hard enough, believes enough, he or she can succeed, that from out of the rubble one can emerge to conquer. In all, the course will consider the machine, the garden, the Republic, and the belief that the Republic and the landscape can survive the machine, that no matter how complex the technology, a Han Solo will drive his spacecraft across light warps as singularly as a teenager his hot rod, that individualism, in other words, will still count in America, that one man, in the name of the Republic, can still destroy the Death Star. A midterm and final examination will be required, along with a 5-7 page paper. (King)

240/Women's Studies 240. Introduction to Women's Studies. Open to all undergraduates. (4). (HU).

See Women's Studies 240.

350. Approaches to American Culture. Amer. Cult. 201, junior standing, or concentration in American Culture; or permission of instructor. (3). (Excl).

A seminar that considers three principal ways of interpreting American culture as a whole. The course will begin with an analysis of some theoretical and historical aspects of the history of the field of American Studies. Then it turns to the Myth and Symbol approach, applying various theories of mythology and using James Fenimore Cooper's The Pioneers as the central text. The next section will consider social history by focusing on Eugene D. Genovese's Roll Jordan Roll and the theories of Antonio Gramsci. Finally through the work of Frederick Jackson Turner, Alexis de Toqueville, and Christopher Lasch, the course will look at alternative ways of understanding a national culture. The class will combine lecture and extensive discussion. Three 8-10 page analytic papers are required. (D. Horowitz)

398. Junior Honors Seminar. Permission of a concentration adviser in American Culture. (3). (Excl).

See American Culture 350. (Horowitz)

430/Women's Studies 430. Theories of Feminism. Women's Studies 240 or equivalent; or permission of instructor. (4). (HU).

See Women's Studies 430. (Howard)

490. History of the American Film. Junior standing. (3-4). (HU). Laboratory fee (approximately $20.00).

The western, the detective/crime film, the musical, the screwball comedy, the science fiction film, etc., form a background against which we measure and understand contemporary American cinema. These film genres each have their particular conventions presenting certain kinds of characters and plots; utilizing particular camera styles, mise-en-scene, and acting; and addressing themselves to particular issues and conflicts. As these genres evolve, old patterns are given new twists, surprising the viewer with unexpected departures from the norm and turning the genre toward consideration of new social and cultural problems. We will examine four characteristic American film genres. A weekly film screening will be accompanied by two hours of lectures and one hour of discussion. Three films in each genre will be studied, ranging in period from the 1930's to the 1970's, thus allowing us to analyze changes within the genre, and the aesthetic as well as the socio-political implications of these changes. Short units on the documentary and the avant-garde film may be included. Students will be evaluated on the basis of four short papers, one longer paper and their participation in discussion. Required texts vary in accordance with the genres chosen for study. (Eagle)

492/Hist. of Art 492. The White City: The Drama of Urban-Industrial America, The Columbian Exposition, Chicago 1893. (3). (HU).

See History of Art 492.

496. Historical Approaches to American Culture. (3). (SS). May be repeated for credit with permission.
Section 002 Music in the United States.
During Fall Term, 1983, this class is jointly offered with Music History and Musicology 450. See MHM 450 for description. (Crawford)

498. Literary Approaches to American Culture. (3). (HU). May be repeated for credit with permission.
Section 001 Native American Literature.
Native American Literature is a survey course representing a large and widely unknown selection of contemporary, recent and past writings and works by American Indian writers, editors and artists. The course itself is divided into four concentric parts: Translations; Articles and Essays; Short Stories and the Novel; and Poetry. Other media and art forms blend well with the above works and tend to enhance a person's experience with the literature. Therefore, the course also includes selections of photography, music and recordings, periodic journals and newspapers created and produced by Native people. Readings required for the course are in paperback and consist of one book of translations, collections of articles and essays, two contemporary newspapers, an anthology of short stories, a novel and three short books of poetry. Many of these works are new, published in the last ten years and are not usually read or recognized by a huge majority of American teachers and scholars. Still, American Indian authors, artists and editors are creating their own literature in the twentieth century and are establishing precedents in form and technique which English literature has yet to experience in its own history.

Section 003 North and South American Literature. During Fall Term 1983 this course is jointly offered with English 473. See English 473 for description. (McIntosh)


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