Courses in AMERICAN CULTURE (DIVISION 315)


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

170/History 170/University Courses 170/Women's Studies 210. Histories of "Witchcraft." First-year students only. (4). (Introductory Composition).

"witch (1) one that is credited with usually malignant supernatural powers, especially a woman,...a sorceress; (2) an ugly old woman, hag; (3) a charming or alluring girl or woman."

-Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary


This is a multi-disciplinary and cross-cultural course offered to first-year students only. Its format is somewhat unusual. Students will attend a twice-weekly "lecture" class that focuses on the 1692 "witchcraft" outbreak in Salem, Massachusetts, and on the accusations and trials that preceded this dramatic event in both New England and Europe. Readings for this section of the course are drawn from history, literature, journalism, sociology, psychology, and anthropology (see lecture syllabus). In addition, each student will enroll in a twice-weekly discussion section (a kind of mini-course within the larger course) that focuses initially on the Salem outbreak but subsequently on other histories of "witchcraft."

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

This course offers an interdisciplinary introduction to the formation of twentieth-century American culture. Focusing on the period from the end of the Civil War to the present, it examines the evolution of American values, attitudes, and community life, focusing on such changes as the growth of mass production, the emergence of modern gender ideals and sexualities, the growth of and challenges to institutionalized racism, and the rise of the consumer culture. The course does not focus on some assumed 'core' of American ideals or experiences; rather it traces the open-ended process by which diverse groups of Americans have shaped, resisted, and tried to change the meaning of "America." It links that cultural dialogue to the history of social diversity, material inequality, and political struggle in the late 19th- and 20th- century U.S. We will explore these issues using a multidisciplinary range of methods and source materials, including novels, photographs, popular music, journalism, architecture, memoirs, and movies. (Scobey)

210. Topics in Ethnic Studies. (3). (SS). May be repeated for credit with permission.
Section 001 Introduction to Asian American Studies.
This course deals with "Asian American experiences." The time frame: the mid-nineteenth century to the present. The fields covered: law; literature; history; popular culture; and gender/sexuality studies. Together we will examine and discuss a variety of texts - federal court cases, statutes, works of literature like The Joy Luck Club and M. Butterfly, television shows like Kung Fu and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, movies like Flower Drum Song and Universal Soldier (the fabulous Van Damme/Lundgren flick), historical documents and oral histories, to name a few during our exploration of the experiences of major groups of Asian Americans in the United States (Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, South Asian, Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander). This course is designed to be a springboard for further discussion and research. Two medium papers and one bibliography project. No exams. Cost:3 (Won)

Section 002 Latinos in the United States: An Introduction. Latinos or Hispanics are the second largest minority in the U.S. Comprised of those whose origins however near or far - come from the Spanish-speaking countries of Latin America, Latinos comprise very variegated experiences in the U.S. Both the reasons of migration from their countries and their processes of incorporation in American society vary widely. Together we will seek to understand both what they share and what is unique. This course explores the experiences of the major groups of Latinos in the U.S. Chicanos, Mexicans immigrants, Puerto Ricans, Cubans both for what it tells us about them and for the social problems and social issues they serve to exemplify: family, immigration law and its consequences, the different meaning of race in Latin America and the U.S., the unfolding drama of revolution, the "culture of poverty" and the like. Overall we will seek to understand to what extent Latinos are insiders or outsiders to this society, and why. (Koreck)

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

See Women's Studies 240.

301. Topics in American Culture. (1-3). (Excl). May be repeated for credit with permission.

Section 001 Working in a Multicultural Society. (1 credit). This course will draw on resources of the theme semester as each week either a local or visiting scholar will lecture and lead a discussion on a thematically related topic. Themes covered will likely include the political economy of work, labor and unemployment, African American workers, Women workers, Latino immigration and work, U.S. Unions today, views of workers in the U.S., worker education, poetry and work, workers and environmental justice, and perhaps others. The course will begin the second week of courses and run a week after the theme semester conference which will take place in November. (Wald, et al.)

Section 002. This course will offer students an approach to thinking about and using photographs and text in constructing blended narratives that speak to the relation between personal experience, memory, and cultural meanings. Students do 4-5 assignments in the term, each designed to underscore particular approaches to the possibilities with the notion of photo essay and to the possibilities and difficulties in combining text with imagery. Students must own an adjustable, still-photographic camera, any format (35mm, 2-1/4, or 4x5). Black and white photographic materials are stressed, and darkrooms for black and white work are available for students of this class. Students may work in color if they are involved in a color photo class at the School of Art or otherwise, have means of color processing and printing available to them. A lab fee of approximately $40 is charged. Class time may differ from Time Schedule listing. (Leonard)

310. Topics in Ethnic Studies. (3). (SS). May be repeated for credit with permission of advisor.
Section 001 The Asian American West.
This course will examine the settlement of Asian immigrants and their descendants as they became part of the American West despite efforts of some groups to exclude them on the basis that they were not "American." The definitions of inclusion and exclusion took many strange twists as the boundaries of American culture were being contested on this American frontier. In arguing for the unassimilablity of Asians, exclusionists were aiming to define a racist foundation for the American nation. This course will explore the implications and impact of this exclusive definition of "American" on the development of the American West and the nation as a whole. How Asian immigrants settled in the hostile American West and struggled to enjoy rights equal to those of white European Americans is a vital part of the history of cultural confrontation in the U.S. The class will follow a lecture/discussion format. Several short papers, a research paper and quizzes are required. (Nomura)

Section 002 Environmental Politics and Latinos' Response to Environmental Injustice. Environmental degradation/injustice in poor minority communities in the United States (U.S.) is a rising concern for members of these communities as well as for scholars in several disciplines such as sociology, political sciences, geography, planning, and social work. This course will examine the problems of environmental injustice faced by poor Latino/Latina communities in the U.S. accounting for its negative and positive impacts. In the negative side, the location of industries and the disposal of toxic wastes in their backyard. In the positive side, community awareness and increasing response to these problems. We will address the general issues of environmental degradation worldwide, the socioeconomic situation of poor Latino/Latina communities in the U.S., the environmental problems affecting them, and their organizational experiences/struggles against environmental degradation. The course hopes to introduce the student to the important themes of social movements and community struggles among minorities. It will promote the development of analytical skills in analyzing social problems affecting minorities, and in evaluating alternative policies and solutions to these problems. It will also promote awareness among students of the critical problems faced by the minorities and the poor. Responsibilities will include readings, class participation, group oral presentations, two short-essays, and a final research paper. The final paper can be a research of a community environmental struggle as a case study. (Velez)

Section 003 Survey of the History of Latinos in the United States. This course is an exploration of the history and culture of Latinos in the United States from the colonial era to the present. We will examine the diversity among groups that make up the Latino population of the United States, paying particular attention to the three largest subgroups of Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Cuban origin. Topics will include the varied experiences of colonialism and immigration; the role of race prejudice and discrimination in shaping social mobility; cultural transformation and regional variations in language, religion and music; gender as a central variable in defining issues of identity and opportunity; and the birth of a Latino civil rights movement. (Sanchez)

336/CAAS 334/Hist. 365. Popular Culture in Contemporary Black America. (3). (Excl).

See CAAS 334. (Kelley)

410. Hispanics in the United States. (3). (Excl). May be repeated for credit with permission.
Section 00l: Health, Gender, and Power in 'Minority' America.
Latinas/os have become a significant and growing population in the United States. Their differences fro other "minorities" are culturally defined and represented in a variety of sites (the media, public health, art, politics, etc.). In this course we will explore the ways in which Latinas/os have been culturally defined and represented in the context of medical practices (social policy, research, public health, etc.), and through the definition of health and disease which these practices entail. We will be thinking through the AIDS epidemic to learn how cultural representations and social relations of ethnicity, sexuality, gender, class, and disease can be grasped through a cultural analysis. The other foci of the course are various categories of diseases, and social sites of potential conflict and cultural misunderstanding (hospitals, testing procedures, families, etc.). (Koreck)

Section 002: Women in Prison - The Life of Black and Latino Women Serving Time in Prison. "Yet it is clear to see that for many of the women in prison, going to prison was just a traumatic transition from one society that was confining and oppressive to another." (Burkhart) In this course, readings and discussion will focus on understanding how prisons are reflections of the racism, sexism, and classism that exist in society. The course will attempt to analyze how the criminal system perpetuates the oppression of Latino and Black women in society. I also will attempt to bring the fact of the existence of this oppression, to the attention of those fortunate enough to live on the outside. We know nothing of these inmates whose lives and activities are limited by the cold, gray stone walls of their prison cells. We will also learn what happens to the children of those women that go to prison. On the average, 70 to 80 percent of the inmates in a woman's prison are single mothers, and two-thirds of their children are under the age of ten. The course includes a practical component. The students are required to visit a woman prisoner in a nearby prison. (Jose-Kampfner)

Section 003 Crossing Borders: Latinos Migration to the United States. This course ranges between anthropology and its neighboring disciplines in an attempt to understand what life is like for Latinos involved in migration to and from the United States. Focusing on people from Mexico and Central America, it examines their experiences in relation to issues such as the changing character of capitalism as an international system, the organizing role of networks and families, changing patterns of gender relations, the emergence of a second generation, and the cultural politics of class formation. The course combines the close reading of required texts with detailed classroom discussion. The final grade is based on contributions to discussion and on two papers that should expand on issues raised by the readings. (Rouse)

496. Historical Approaches to American Culture. (3). (Excl). May be repeated for credit with permission of concentration adviser.

Section 001 Cultural Politics in Industrial America. For Fall Term, 1993, this course is jointly offered with History 397.003. (Oberdeck)

Section 002 American Legal Tradition. For Fall, 1993, this course is jointly offered with History 396.002. (Green)

Section 003 The Urban Political Machine in America. For Fall Term, 1993, this course is jointly offered with History 396.003. (MacDonald)

Section 004: Plagues Mass Disease in American Cultural History. For Fall Term, 1993, this course is jointly offered with History 396.004. (Pernick)

Section 005 Organizing a New American Presidency to Govern. For Fall Term, 1993, this course is jointly offered with History 397.002. (Mackaman)

Section 006 Social History of the U.S. Civil War. For Fall Term, 1993, this course is jointly offered with History 396.001. (Vinovskis)

Section 007 Television, Society, and Culture. For Fall Term, 1993, this course is jointly offered with Anthropology 458.001. (Kottak)

498. Literary Approaches to American Culture. (3). (Excl). May be repeated for credit with permission.

Section 001: Native American Literature. This course has two major orientations that crosscut and complement each other. Along the first path, lectures and readings pertain to Native Americans collectively. This provides a shared background for class discussions and assignments as well as a general overview of a body of literature labeled Native American. The second path entails in-depth analyses of the literatures of five culture groups. Five research teams will collect, evaluate and compile example of tribal literatures, from creation stories to contemporary novels. These teams also establish the geographical, historical, cultural and social contexts within which the texts were produced. Method of instruction is predominantly team-inquiry. Students work on tasks within their team before proceeding to similar tasks independently. Tasks involve oral and written responses to specific questions. Grading will be based on several short papers, the team bibliography, team presentations (oral and written) of their novel's context, and a final paper. (Howe)

Section 003 Recordings of Masculinity in Contemporary American Culture. In this course, we will pursue an interdisciplinary, multi-media investigation of masculinity in American culture. Working against the assumption that masculinity remains stable and singular across time and cultures, we will seek out contradictions, trouble spots, and points of crisis in order to think about masculinity as a cultural construct subject to continual renegotiation. Beginning with various cultural documents of the 1960's, we will follow the twists and turns of masculinity as it is represented (that is, constructed) in American culture up until the present moment. We will consider how American masculinity gets refigured through historical upheavals (wars, political movements, AIDS); how differences in race, class, and sexualities are integral to competing ideals of masculinity; and how masculinity represents itself in complicated relation to femininity. A wide variety of texts will enrich our understanding of, and theorizing about, masculinity: novels, films, theories, video, analyses of cultural icons, from Clint Eastwood to Peewee Herman. Students will have a say in determining the final reading and viewing list, but some possibilities: John Updike's Rabbit Redux; Norman Mailer's Armies of the Night; writings of the black power movement; excerpts from Robert Bly's Iron John; a Tim O'Brien novel; Terminator 2 and Lethal Weapon; Sex, Lies, and Videotape; episodes of Batman, thirtysomething, The Cosby Show; Frederick Exley's A Fan's Notes; sociological accounts of the trials and tribulations of masculinity; Ishmael Reed's Reckless Eyeballing; scientific (and pseudo-scientific) theorizing about the male body and male sexuality; Paris Is Burning; David Guy's The Autobiography of My Body; "hard-boiled" detective fiction. Requirements: Energetic class participation; commitment to seeing some films outside of class; one group project; several short papers; a final term paper or alternative project. (Robinson)

Section 004 Friends of the Indian. This course will examine the Indian as a philanthropic subject in 19th century American prose. Through conversion, legal, and literary narratives, the course will attempt to discover how "befriending" the Indian assisted removal and manifest destiny. To determine how the Indian's "best interests" were appropriated and resisted, we will read accounts by non-native and native authors. The reading list will Include works by William Apess, James Fenimore Cooper, George Catlin, Francis Parkman, Lydia Maria Child, Catherine Sedgwick, Herman Melville, and Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins. The format of the course will be lecture/discussion. Students will be expected to keep a journal on readings and submit a midterm and final paper. (Bell)

Courses in Spanish

307/Spanish 307. Spanish for U.S. Latinos. Basic knowledge of Spanish language or permission of instructor.

This course addresses the particular linguistic needs and interests of students of Hispanic descent and heritage born and/or educated in the United States interested in acquiring a formal and structural knowledge of Spanish, in further expanding vocabulary at the abstract and professional levels, and in developing their skills in formal and professional writing. Sociolinguistic aspects of Spanish in the United States code-switching, linguistic attitudes, bilingualism - also will be explored in relation to the politics of cultural identity. Short weekly assignments and exercises emphasizing the differences between oral and written modes of communication and between formal and informal Spanish will be required, along with a mid-term and a final exam. Readings will include cultural essays, literature, and scholarly articles. (Aparicio)

Courses in Ojibwa

A full sequence of Ojibwa cannot be guaranteed. Students must consult with the American Culture Program Office before undertaking Ojibwa to satisfy the College language requirement.

222. Elementary Ojibwa. Non-LS&A students must have permission of the American Culture Program Director. (3). (LR).

This course is designed to give the conversational and cultural skills necessary to enable students to use Ojibwa in real life situations. The teaching methods are entirely inductive, and the role of writing is downplayed. There is considerable emphasis on teaching culturally appropriate behavior, and the simple conversational patterns of greetings, leave takings, introductions, table talk, etc. There is no prerequisite for the course. Cost:1 (McCue)

223. Elementary Ojibwa. Am. Cult. 222 and permission of the American Culture Program Director. (3). (LR).

See Ojibwa 222. (McCue)

322. Intermediate Ojibwa. Am. Cult. 223 and permission of the American Culture Program Director. (3). (LR).

This course is designed to improve the basic conversational skills of the student who knows some Ojibwa. The emphasis in class is on increasing the range of situations in which the student can use Ojibwa in real life. Some emphasis is placed on teaching the students to be able to learn more Ojibwa outside of the classroom, by talking and using the language with native speakers. Cost:1 (McCue)

323. Intermediate Ojibwa. Am. Cult. 322 and permission of the American Culture Program Director. (3). (LR).

See Ojibwa 322. (McCue)

422. Advanced Ojibwa. Am. Cult. 323 and permission of the American Culture Program Director. (3). (Excl).

This course is aimed at giving students with conversational ability in Ojibwa the opportunity to both improve their speaking and listening skills and to introduce them to Ojibwa literature, and the various dialects represented in the literature. Students will work with the original, unedited texts, as well as with edited, retranscribed materials, and thus learn about the problems of working in a language without a standard writing system that is widely accepted. Cost:1 (McCue)

423. Advanced Ojibwa. Am. Cult. 422 and permission of the American Culture Program Director. (3). (Excl).

See Ojibwa 422. (McCue)


lsa logo

University of Michigan | College of LS&A | Student Academic Affairs | LS&A Bulletin Index

This page maintained by LS&A Academic Information and Publications, 1228 Angell Hall

The Regents of the University of Michigan,
Ann Arbor, MI 48109 USA +1 734 764-1817

Trademarks of the University of Michigan may not be electronically or otherwise altered or separated from this document or used for any non-University purpose.