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. 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.

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

See Women's Studies 240. (Stevens)

430/Women's Studies 430. Theories of Feminism. Any of Women's Studies 341-345; 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-scène, 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)

496. Historical Approaches to American Culture. (3). (SS). May be repeated for credit with permission.

In Fall Term, 1984, this course is jointly offered with Music History and Musicology 450. (Crawford)

498. Literary Approaches to American Culture. (3). (HU). May be repeated for credit with permission.
Native American Literature.
What makes Indian literature literature (and not Anthropology or History)? What makes Indian literature Indian? Can the vocabulary of traditional literary criticism account for the unique content and form of Indian literature? These are some of the questions we will grapple with in this course. To begin with, "Indian" is a socio-political term more than it is a cultural term; the native peoples of the North American continent are culturally diverse and can only be referred to as "Indian" in the context of Indian/White relations. We will need, therefore, to review U.S. Government policy toward Indians as part of our background in studying Indian literature(s). Essentially a survey, the course is designed to give the student an overview of the wealth of literary materials written by Indians. Course requirements: A midterm exam or project, a term paper, and a final exam. Music and art will supplement the primary literary texts by such authors as Leslie Silko, N. Scott Momaday, James Welch and Simon Ortiz and may be utilized creatively in fulfilling the course requirements. (Vangen)


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