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 BGS advisor.

100. What is an American? (4). (SS).

This lecture/discussion section course will study the diverse, conflicting ways in which Americans have defined what it means to be American, in both the past and the present. A rich tradition of debate over what values and experiences make up our national identity informs most of the central political and cultural conflicts in our history. This course will study both the contemporary era of intense controversy over what it means to be American what some have called a "cultural civil war" and periods of past conflicts over questions of diversity and difference in American life. The course will meet for two hours a week for lecture and two hours for discussion. Students will be graded on the basis of classroom participation, midterm and final examinations, and one term paper. Cost:3 WL:1 (Scobey)

170/Hist. 170/UC 170/WS 210. New Worlds: Colonialism and Cultural Encounters. First-year students only. (4). (Introductory Composition).

The subject of this course is early American history and culture - defined broadly to encompass what is today Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean as well as the United States. It assumes that North America was a "New World" for not only the Europeans who conquered, explored, missionized, and settled the region, but also for the Africans whom Europeans enslaved and brought to the colonies by force and the Native Americans whose ancestors had occupied the territory for thousands of years. Among the many stories of contact and conflict between, among, and within groups that make up early American history, this class focuses on those that speak most powerfully to present-day struggles over gender, race, class, and religion. WL:1 (Karlsen)

Section 002 Close Encounters: Gender, Sexuality, and the Making of the Nation. Struggles over sexuality have played an integral role in American life. In this seminar, we will consider how sexuality functioned in encounters between different communities before the Civil War. Using a variety of sources, ranging from captivity narratives to sentimental fiction, we will think about why and how such a seemingly 'private' topic has taken on such public force. Looking at encounters in early America, we will think about the ways that interactions of gender, race, class, ethnicity, and sexual orientation have combined to produce dynamic, sometimes explosive discussions of appropriate sexual practices and desires. We will also consider the role these discussions have played in defining American identity and nationhood. (Paris)

Section 003 Spiritual Worlds: Religion, Race, and Gender in the Transformation of American Culture. Drawing on sources such as personal narratives, missionary accounts, sacred songs, trial records, and historical interpretations, this seminar will explore the spiritual worlds and religious practices of Native, African, and European Americans to roughly 1840. The role of religion in the conquest of new lands, women's struggles for spiritual autonomy and authority, and romantic appropriations of Native religions are among the several topics to be explored. We will be especially interested in those dramatic historical moments when the sacred worlds of different groups collided or when social and cultural tensions were expressed in spirit possessions, witchcraft accusations, religious revivals, pan-Indian movements, and slave revolts. (Karlsen)

Section 004 Re-Writing the Conquest: Representations of the Caribbean in Travel and Other Narratives. Europeans and other travelers to the Americas left vivid accounts of the people and cultures they conquered and colonized. In this seminar, we will read and discuss travel narratives written about the Caribbean, from roughly the late 17th to the mid-19th centuries. Analyzing them as "tools of empire," as cultural productions that invented the Americas for Western audiences, as encouraged expansionist desires, we will explore recurrent themes such as "cannibalism," romanticizations of slavery, eroticizations of "the other," rationalizations of violence. To examine the dynamics of race, gender, and power in these "colonial encounters," we will also read accounts left to us by those whose bodies, cultures, and land were colonized. (Lagos)

Section 005 A Militant New World: War, Peace, and Trade on North America's Middle Ground. Recognizing with the historian Ian Steele that warfare deserves to be neither celebrated nor forgotten, this seminar will examine military, diplomatic, and economic interactions among Native American, European American, and African American populations in northwestern North America from approximately 1675 to 1840. We will analyze a range of primary and secondary sources, from fur traders' journals, treaties, and captivity narratives to archaeological records, recent Hollywood films, and museum exhibits. Course materials will address the impact of the violent intrusion of newcomers and how military goals and strategies, demographic change, marriage practices, disease, and other factors expanded and dramatically altered social and political relations in this region. (Parmenter)

Section 007 Animal Encounters: America's New World of Natural Science. The "natural world" is more than a mere stage for human cultural contact. Humans bring culturally-specific ideas about "nature," "culture," plants, and animals to their efforts to subsist, and they modify environments as much as they adapt to them. In this seminar, we will investigate how the natural world became a medium for the interaction of European, African, and Native American cultures in the 18th and early 19th centuries and how scientific studies speak to cultural assumptions about race, gender, and class. Examining visual as well as written sources, we will also ask a range of specific questions, such as how the mastodon helped create the United States, how the opossum conjured images of women in the minds of European scientists, and why botanists were so obsessed by the sex lives of plants. (Cox)

205. American Cultures. (3). (HU).

This course explores the "making" of American identity and literature from colonial to contemporary cultures. The course will be guided by the question, "What is an American?" We will look at the ways this question contained or excluded particular ethnic groups such as European Americans, Native Americans, African Americans, Latino/Latina Americans, and Asian Americans, as well as how cultural groups differentiate their experiences yet still identify as Americans. Cost:3 WL:1 (Bell)

206(203). Themes in American Culture. (3). (SS). May be repeated for credit with permission of concentration advisor.
Section 001 Work, Gender, and U.S. Politics in the Late 20th Century.
Students who come to UM will spend most of their lives working for wages in some capacity. This course explores ideologies and cultural norms which inform the type of work experiences available to people of different social positions. Some aspects of work in the U.S. have changed dramatically in recent years (removal of explicit color barriers) while others have remained remarkably resistant to change (wage gaps). In order to explicate "work" in the twentieth century U.S., this class will explore the relational nature of differences in career and homemaking opportunities and prescriptions, in career trajectories, and in social welfare entitlements and payouts. Through thinking about the relational nature of differences among women and men of various social/cultural locations, we will uncover and explore recurring themes throughout the history of work in the U.S., the potency of the wage, separate spheres, domesticity and republicanism, racism, class solidarities and fragmentations, and more. WL:1 (Sampson)

212(211). Introduction to Latino Studies Social Science. (3). (SS). (This course meets the Race and Ethnicity Requirement).

This course is designed to give students a broad overview of the major topics, themes, and methodologies in the interdisciplinary field of Latino Studies. The goal is to introduce students to the diverse experiences of different Latino groups, focusing on factors such as race, class, gender, and sexuality. Throughout the course, we will evaluate and debate socially-constructed definitions of identity and community. We will incorporate readings on Caribbeans, Central and South Americans in order to show historical interactions and differences and similarities between different groups. Discussion topics include issues of cultural identity; the politics of language; political movements. Issues will be placed within their historical contexts. The course employs a wide-range of readings from within the social sciences. Readings include some essays on art, music, literature and poetry, and viewing and analyzing performance pieces, documentary and feature films and creation of a space within the classroom for exploration of a wide-range of historical/contemporary issues, dialogue between/within groups, and students' own personal experiences into the discussion of the readings. Cost:2 WL:1 (Rael y Galvez)

214. Introduction to Asian American Studies Social Science. (3). (SS). (This course meets the Race and Ethnicity Requirement).

The experiences of people of color have shaped and tested the character of the U.S., its culture, institutions, and society. This course will examine the nature of the American culture and society through a study of the Asian American experience in U.S. history. The Asian American experience reveals the dynamics of race relations and economic stratification in this country as well as the continuing process of defining America and American. This course provides an introductory study of the experience of Asian immigrants and their citizen descendants in the United States from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. The groups covered include Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Pacific Islander, South Asian, Southeast Asian Americans. Topics for discussion will include international/domestic relations, immigration policy, ethnic adaptive strategies, ethnic community building, constitutional issues, majority/minority relations, and literary expressions. WL:1

217. Introduction to Native American Studies Humanities. (3). (HU). (This course meets the Race and Ethnicity Requirement).

This will be an introductory course in contemporary Native American identity and literature. We will look at the ways in which Native American authors defined or reimagined tribalism in the late 20th century. Our readings will begin with the works of the Native American Renaissance (Momaday, Silko, Deloria) and trace their influences through contemporary novels and essays (Alexie, Vizenor, Owens, Hogan). Cost:2 WL:1

240/WS 240. Introduction to Women's Studies. Open to all undergraduates. (4). (HU). (This course meets the Race and Ethnicity Requirement).

See Women's Studies 240.

243/WS 243. Introduction to Study of Latinas in the U.S. (3). (HU). (This course meets the Race and Ethnicity Requirement).

This course is an exploration into the multiplicity of social and cultural histories and relations that define the variety of experiences of Latinas in the United States. We will examine the many ways in which ethnic, racial, class, gender, and sexual differences have shaped these experiences. Special attention will be paid to the construction of identities and to power relations in the United States. During the term we will discuss these processes using a wide range of multidisciplinary materials. The course is thematically organized and it includes topics such as: Differences Among Latina Women: Racialization; "Border" Women/"Barrio" Women: The Geography of Identity; "Mother," "Sister," and "Daughter," En-Gendering Betrayal: Sexuality and Transgressions; and Differences "at Work." WL:1 (Koreck)

301. Topics in American Culture. (1-3). (Excl). May be repeated for credit with permission.
Section 001 The Photo Essay. (3 credits).
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 4 x 5). 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. Classes meet twice a week for three hours each meeting. Some classes are lecture, demonstration, discussion, and/or critique. Other class meeting times will be used for in-class lab time. Cost:2 WL:1 (Leonard)

302/Soc. 302. Introduction to American Society. (3). (Excl).

See Sociology 302. (Shively)

304/Soc. 304. American Immigration. (3). (SS).

See Sociology 304. (Pedraza)

310. Topics in Ethnic Studies. (3). (SS). May be repeated for credit with permission of advisor.
Section 001 Practicum in the Latino Community.
For Fall Term, 1996, this section is offered jointly with Psychology 305.005. (Jose-Kampfner)

Section 002 Practicum in Multicultural Communities. For Fall Term, 1996, this section is offered jointly with Psychology 305.007. (Gutierrez)

311. Topics in Ethnic Studies. (3). (HU). May be repeated for credit with permission of advisor.
Section 001 Dances of Latinas/Latinos.
This course will examine contemporary dance and performance art as a transformative form beyond the body. Through an analysis of selected choreography and performance, we will establish a dialogue that recreates the historical-political-cultural background and context of works about Puerto Rico, New York, and Latino America. The choreography presented will focus on factors such as race, class, gender, and sexuality. We will examine choreography and other artistic collaborative efforts (i.e., music/composers, installation, performer, literature, and visual art) within the issues of cultural identity and how this affects process, movement, and the dance aesthetics. Students are required to participate through movement, discussion, observation, analysis, and performance. Other requirements include: related readings of text and articles, journal entries, one critical essay, written critiques, and complete participation in discussions, workshops and attendance to performances. Taught by Puerto Rican Choreographer/Performance Artist/Assistant Professor of Dance. Cost:2 WL:1 (Velez-Aguayo)

314/Hist. 378. History of Asian Americans in the U.S. (4). (Excl).

This course will examine the nature of American culture and society through a specific study of Asian/Pacific Americans. The Asian/Pacific American experience reveals the dynamics of race relations in the U.S. as well as the continuing process of defining America and American. This course provides a survey of the experience of Asian immigrants and Pacific-Islanders and their citizen descendants in the United States from the late-eighteenth century to the present. The groups covered include Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Pacific-Islander, South Asian, and Southeast Asian Americans. Topics for discussion include international/domestic factors for immigration, immigration policy, U.S. imperialism/colonialism, settlement and occupational patterns, ethnic adaptive strategies, ethnic community building, constitutional issues, majority/minority relations, anti-Asian movements and Asian resistance to exclusion, World War II, repeal of legal restrictions, and postwar changes in Asian/Pacific-American communities. Cost:3 WL:1 (Nomura)

327/English 387. Latino/Latina Literature of the U.S. (3). (HU).

See English 387. (Gonzalez)

328/Engl. 382. Native American Literature. (3). (HU). May be repeated for a total of six credits.

See English 382. (Bell)

335. Arts and Culture in American Life. (3). (HU).

This course should give students a broad vocabulary with which to explore the ways in which arts and culture constitute and reflect American life; give them a rich collection of fiction, film, public art, architecture, poetry, music, and material culture to grapple with; and give them a good deal of practice in the work of unpacking the stories in and the stories behind this kind of cultural production. Using a variety of readings, songs, photographs, paintings, newspaper accounts, artists' renderings of events in American culture, and the development of the technologies, sounds, and images which are crucial to the histories of arts and culture in the United States will give students some kaleidoscopic visions to read, talk about, and think through different kinds of representation and narrative forms of arts and culture. WL:1 (Hass)

350. Approaches to American Culture. Amer. Cult. 201, junior standing, or concentration in American Culture; or permission of instructor. (3). (Excl).
Section 001 Sex, Lies, and Slavery: 19th Century Scandal.
The thesis of this junior seminar is that specific scandals can serve as an investigator's "key" to the culture in which each occurs: thus, a person could learn a lot about the contemporary U.S. by studying the Simpson trial, and about the Seventies by examining Watergate. To study nineteenth-century America, we will read accounts of some of the century's biggest and most enthralling scandals, and explore some of the ways in which current scholars have explained each brouhaha's significance. Each set of documents, and each methodology, will necessarily be historicist; so we will also look at the ways in which testimony about past events has been, and should be, treated in careful academic work. Cost:2 WL:1 (Ryan)

360/Great Books 350. Great Books of the Founding Fathers. Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. (3). (Excl).

See Great Books 350. (Thornton)

373/Hist. 373. History of the U.S. West. (3). (HU).

This is a one term course which examines the History of the American West from before European contact through the Cold War. Because of the long time period, there will be an emphasis on the themes and patterns that have shaped the American West. Topics will include Native American societies, European contact, settlement, and environmental impact. We will pay particular attention to issues surrounding ethnicity, gender, class, and labor. No previous knowledge is required, but a general background in American history will be helpful. There will also be an emphasis on reading and analyzing primary documents. Cost:3 WL:1 (Montoya)

383. Junior Honors Reading and Thesis. Junior standing and grade point average of at least 3.0. (3). (Excl). (INDEPENDENT).

Reading of selected works on American Culture. Conferences, written reports, and term papers.

388. Field Study. Sophomore standing. (1-4). (Excl). Offered mandatory credit/no credit. (EXPERIENTIAL). May be repeated for credit with permission.

Field experience in organizations, institutions, and service agencies under such University of Michigan programs as the Washington and New York Internship Program and Project Community. Students must make individual arrangements with these programs.

389. Reading Course in American Culture. Permission of instructor. (1-4). (Excl). (INDEPENDENT). May be repeated for credit with permission.

An independent study course available to undergraduates who are interested in designing a reading list for the purpose of exploring new areas in the field of American studies. Each student makes individual arrangements with a faculty member in the student's area of interest.

398. Junior Honors Seminar. Permission of a concentration advisor in American Culture. (3). (Excl).
Section 001 Sex, Lies, and Slavery: 19th Century Scandal.
This section is the Honors version of AC 350. Cost:2 WL:1 (Ryan)

410. Hispanics in the United States. (3). (Excl). May be repeated for credit with permission.
Section 002 Women in Prison: Gender and Crime Among Blacks and Latinas.
Requirements: (1) midterm and final paper; (2) class participation; (3) reaction papers; (4) class presentation. The papers will be an exploration of the life of women in prison. Interviews will be scheduled at the prison. Students will explore a different methodology. This approach for writing papers will be Human Science perspective. It is a way of becoming more aware of the world. It is the study of every day experiences of human beings as they participate in their existence. In this approach, abstract categories and scientific constructs of our world are rooted in everyday experiences. For Fall Term, 1996, this section is offered jointly with Women's Studies 483.003. WL:1 (José-Kampfner)

Section 003 Empowering Latino Families and Communities. For Fall Term, 1996, this section is offered jointly with Psychology 470.001. (Gutierrez)

430/WS 430. Feminist Thought. Amer. Cult. 240 and one 340-level WS course, or permission of instructor. (3). (Excl).

See Women's Studies 430. (Egger)

489. Senior Essay. Senior concentrators and Amer. Cult. 350. (3). (Excl). (INDEPENDENT).

This course is designed for concentrators who desire a more directed research experience with individual faculty at the end of their undergraduate career. It allows a senior concentrator in American Culture the opportunity to write a research paper under the direction of a particular faculty member.

490/Film-Video 451. American Film Genres. Junior standing. (4). (HU). Laboratory fee (approximately $30.00).

American Cinema has developed on the idea of telling certain stories with a particular style, easily recognizable by the audience. The western, the gangster film, the musical, the science-fiction, etc. are all genres with specific conventions and characteristics. These genres have evolved according to particular historical and social moments to form the context of our understanding of the movies. By considering the changes in these patterns we may obtain some insight into the social, historical, and cultural problems and concerns of the United States. This course will study three or four genres, looking at their narrative and stylistic characteristics, ranging from the 1930s into the 1990s, to focus on the changes and their relationship with the sociopolitical surroundings of a specific historical moment. We will also focus on Hollywood, as a cultural and economic institution. Weekly film screenings will be accompanied by two hours of lectures and one hour of discussion. Students will read pertinent theoretical essays which center on films studied. Course requirements include three short papers and a final paper. Cost:3 WL:1 (De la Vega-Hurtado)

493. Honors Readings and Thesis. Senior standing and a grade point average of at least 3.0. (3). (Excl). (INDEPENDENT).

Independent interdisciplinary study supervised by two or more tutors leading to an original paper. This is a two-term course with 3 hours of credit each term; a grade is not posted until the end of the second term.

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

Section 001 The Sixties: From Old Left to New in Culture and Politics. "The Sixties" is an interdisciplinary course meeting once a week for three-hours to explore political and cultural features of the controversial decade of the 1960s. We will commence with the political origins of the "New Left" in the remnants of the "Old Left" of the 1950s, using Isserman's If I Had a Hammer and the documentary Seeing Red, followed by Doctorow's novel The Book of Daniel. We will then survey much of the terrain of the following ten years, including the Free Speech Movement, Black Power and Black Arts Movements, Second Wave of Feminism, and anti-Vietnam War movement. The course meets the senior seminar requirement in American Culture, although other students may be admitted if space permits. Requirements include a short (diagnostic) paper and a longer one; participation in a group presentation to the class; and a final exam. Cost:4 WL:1 (Wald)

Section 002 Old Age in U.S. History. For Fall Term, 1996, this section is offered jointly with History 396.001. (Achenbaum)

Section 003 Law and Society in American History. For Fall Term, 1996, this section is offered jointly with History 396.002. (Achenbaum)

Section 004 Cuba and Its Diaspora. For Fall Term, 1996, this section is offered jointly with Cultural Anthropology 356.001. (Behar)

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

Section 001 Comparative U.S. Cultural Nationalisms. Currently familiar configurations of cultural nationalisms were articulated in the late 1960s, but cultural nationalisms of subordinated groups have contested dominant constructions of nationalism since articulations of national identity beginning in the late eighteenth century. Even as nationalism and cultural nationalisms often come into conflict, they share aspects of imagining communities that both enable a powerful political mobilization and obscure other modes of communal organization. Starting with an examination of Benedict Anderson's formulation of nations as "imagined communities," we will examine how, in the U.S. context, African American, Latino/a, Asian American, Hawai'ian, and other marginalized peoples have articulated a political and cultural agenda through the medium of cultural nationalisms that would transcend "internal" differences of class, gender, etc. Emphasis will include the connections between anti-colonialism and wars of national liberation, models of internal colonialism, and the transformations/contradictions of post-60s identity-based nationalisms (Queer Nation, feminism as nationalism/anti-nationalism). Graduate or advanced undergraduate seminar. WL:1 (Gonzalez)

Section 002 Weird Science: Warped Images in the 19th and 20th Centuries. This course asks students to analyze some of the ways in which American writers have explored "weird science" to make points about their society and times. From one angle, then, it's a course on science fiction, from another, it's an examination of a specific form of cultural critique. Topics to be explored include spiritualism, mediums, trances, and utopic visions, but also dystopias, technology, and the uncanny world of Edgar Allen Poe. My interests will be in gender images, settled and unsettling; and the ways in which "weird science" lends itself to social commentary, though not on every topic imaginable. For Fall Term, 1996, this section is offered jointly with English 417.009. Cost:3 (B. Ryan)

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:2 WL: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:2 WL:1 (McCue)

323. Intermediate Ojibwa. Amer. 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, re-transcribed materials, and thus learn about the problems of working in a language without a standard writing system that is widely accepted. Cost:2 WL:1 (McCue)

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

See Ojibwa 422. (McCue)


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