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.

103. First Year Seminar in American Studies. Limited to Freshpersons and Sophomores. (3). (HU).
Section 001 The Idea of Nature in American Literature and Culture.
This seminar will explore how "nature" has been significant as an idea in American culture and literature. We will consider how nature has shifted its ideological meaning in the United States from the early nineteenth century, when it was associated with Manifest Destiny, to the present, when it more often implies an ecological and ethical awareness; and how different cultural groups such as New Englanders before the Civil War, African-Americans under slavery, and Native Americans in the southwest have experienced landscape and the spirit of nature differently in the course of our history. Writers and artists to be studied may include Hawthorne, Thoreau, Dickinson, Church, Douglass, Twain, Morrison, Silko, and O'Keefe. Throughout, we will consider literature as one lens among several with which to view American nature, and include history and the visual arts in our exploration. Students will be asked to keep a journal and write three papers. WL:1 (McIntosh)

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

This course will explore the riot of ideals, aspirations, conflicts, visions and material realities that have defined American culture. It will draw on a range of sources including fiction, music, movies, architecture, and images in art to reconstruct a history of ways in which Americans have imagined their nation. And, while this is not a history course, we will read a lot of history to follow the life of the American imagined community from the struggles to make sense of industrial growth, national expansion, and urbanization in the late 19th century to the current struggle to understand an increasingly multi-ethnic population, an increasingly service oriented economy, and a growing distrust of government with the history of ideas about what "America" should mean. We will think about American culture as it is manifested in ideas about patriotism and war, race and national progress, and the idea of separate spheres as a solution to the moral problems of industrial capitalism. WL:1 (Hass)

203(203). Periods in American Culture. (3). (HU). May be repeated for credit with permission of concentration advisor.
Section 001 The Cold War and Popular Culture.
This course will explore manifestations of postwar fears of communist expansion in popular culture of the period, including film, fiction, television, and music. These works will either address the Cold War directly, in the manner of Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove, or indirectly through related contemporary themes, such as anxiety over atomic technology, the hunt for internal subversives and the enemy within, and the need to "contain" masculine and feminine identities to counter the Soviet threat. We will spend approximately two-thirds of the course on the first phase of the Cold War (1945-1963) and devote the remainder to the Cold War revival of the 1980s. Readings address cultural history and theory and include supplemental material on political and diplomatic history. Course requirements include a final paper and presentation. WL:1 (Moreau)

204(203). Themes in American Culture. (3). (HU). May be repeated for credit with permission of concentration advisor.
Section 001 Our Americas: Social, Cultural, and Political Relationships between the U.S. and Central America.
This course will challenge the traditional parameters of "American" culture by investigating the complex web of relations that link the peoples, governments, and cultures of the United States and Central America. We will focus on contemporary issues such as immigration, tourism, free-trade zones, and global communications, but we will also examine the ways that present-day situations are influenced by a long history of interconnectedness. The U.S. and Central America were intimately tied well before the existence of the North American Free Trade Agreement and long before "transnationalism" and "globalization" became familiar catch words. Throughout the term, we will emphasize the ways that the U.S. has been a cultural, political, and economic force in this hemisphere, but we will also focus on how Central America has critically influenced the contours of the contemporary U.S. In addition, we will pay special attention to the diversity and specificity of Central America's nations, regions, and states. Course materials will include literature, film, World Wide Web materials, tour guides, historical documents, ethnographies, histories, and journalism. No prior knowledge of this topic is required. WL:1 (Masur)

206(203). Themes in American Culture. (3). (SS). May be repeated for credit with permission of concentration advisor.
Section 001 Searching for Ozzie and Harriet: The American Family in Historical Perspective.
We hear a great deal of discussion today about family values and the nostalgic longing to return to the golden age of the family presumably the 1950s. This class will examine the fifties family and attempt to understand how myths of the fifties family were created, why they endure, and how they were/are used to set policy, political agendas, and images which remain in popular culture. We will use historical and sociological texts as well as film and television to help us analyze the family. Students will be evaluated on the basis of several short papers and a final exam. Classes will focus primarily on discussion of assigned texts. A community service component of one credit hour is required. See the instructor at the beginning of winter term for an electronic override into the one hour required component. WL:1 (Bass)

213(211). Introduction to Latino Studies Humanities. (3). (HU). (This course meets the Race and Ethnicity Requirement).

This course will serve as an introduction to the study of the historical situation of Latino/a cultures within the United States. Basic questions of cultural conflict, identity, labor, migrations and immigrations, and social movements will be analyzed through various media, including the short story, novel, poetry/performance, music, film, painting, murals, autobiography, and fashion. Emphasis will be upon issues of race, gender, class, and sexuality as they inform the making of a Latino/a identity. WL:1 (Gonzalez)

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

This course will follow the development of Asian American studies as an academic discipline, from the historical evolution from the 1960s and 70s to concerns of the 1990s and beyond. Readings, films, and discussions will specifically challenge students to consider the relationships between history, law, politics, economics, literature, popular culture, and identity as they affect the construction of an Asian American identity. Specific issues that will be addressed include: what defines "Asian Americans" as a group; the concerns and definitions of "American" citizenship; the search for cultural "authenticity"; the depictions of Asian Americans in television and motion pictures; and the prospects for Asian American political efficacy in the next decade. WL:1 (Hashima)

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

The aim of this course is to introduce students to the literary and cultural issues in American Indian poetry and fiction. We will explore how these writers view themselves and the world in their art. Most of what we will read are books by native North Americans, but the dialogue between people of native cultures and mainstream (popular and academic) cultures is also a key to our understanding. The overview for this course derives from ideas discussed in a cross-cultural context as much as generalizing about literary and tribal experience in the works of these authors. We will trace continuities and differences between American Indian oral traditions and literary traditions, and we will search for the ways that contemporary authors build themes and forms out of the interaction of the past and present. (Niatum)

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.

260/Hist. 260. Religion in America. Hist. 160 and 161 are recommended but not required. (3). (HU).

See History 260. (Juster)

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

Section 001 Hollywood Film Industry and American National Identities. (3 credits). In this course, we will study how an idealized model of American national identity got established, questioned by the Hollywood film industry between (roughly) 1930 and 1980. The Hollywood studio film was distinguished by its ability to project images of normative Americanness and to undercut those notions; in Hollywood, threats and alternatives to that identity were constructed, undermined, and remade sometimes in the very same film. We'll witness how films like Stagecoach, Scarface, It's a Wonderful Life, and Shadow of a Doubt postulate models of Americanness and/or the threat to it; then we'll see how more recent films like The Godfather, Chinatown, and Unforgiven extend this process by challenging the rules by which these genres work. We'll also witness Hollywood's treatment of such issues as race, immigration, sexuality, and the family and test the Hollywood version against acts of literary imagination, historical analysis, sociological inquiry. Requirements: journals; one paper; midterm and final. Film showings on Tuesday evenings. (Freedman)

Section 002 Asian Pacific Americans and the Law. (1 credit). This is a mini-course which meets for five weeks from February 18 until March 25. This course is an overview of how federal and state laws have affected the Asian Pacific American (APA) experience and presence in the U.S. The course will cover the APA historical timeline, exclusion laws, alien land laws, World War II internment of Japanese Americans, affirmative action as it applies to APAs, civil rights and racial hate crime violence, bilingual issues in education and the workplace, and the drive for native Hawaiian recognition and separation, among other topics. WL:1 (Hwang)

312/Hist. 377. History of Latinos in the U.S. (3). (Excl). (This course meets the Race and Ethnicity Requirement).

See History 377. (Montoya)

324/Engl. 381. Asian American Literature. (3). (HU). May be repeated for a total of six credits.

See English 381. (Sumida)

332/Hist. of Art 332. Art on Trial: American Public Monuments and Political Controversy. (3). (HU).

See History of Art 332. (Root)

342/Hist. 368/WS 360. History of the Family in the U.S. (3). (SS).

See History 368. (Morantz-Sanchez)

345. American Politics and Society. (3). (SS).

As the twentieth century draws to a close, America faces an array of social political issues of enormous significance. From poverty, "big government" and militia groups to immigration, health care and new social movements, and many other issues, America and Americans seem intent on defining the terms on which our social and political agendas have dictated social concerns. Whether it is homelessness, affirmative action, AIDS or any of a number of other contentious issues, social concerns have become political agendas and political agendas have dictated social concerns. In this course we will examine a variety of these issues from an interdisciplinary social science perspective. There will be a course pack of readings but no textbooks. The requirements for the course will be a group research project with a written and an oral report; extensive work with on-line resources (training provided); weekly readings and discussions; and two short (4-5 page) papers. (McGuire)

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

This course, designed for American Culture concentrators, will explore the intellectual and institutional history of the American Studies movement, including its relationship to established academic disciplines (such as history, literary studies, anthropology) and to other transformative interdisciplines (such as ethnic studies, cultural studies, women's studies). We will look closely at some scholarly works and some other American texts, and we will ask ourselves about the uses of this sort of knowledge in contemporary America. The course will include substantial independent research and much of the term will be devoted to presentations related to those projects. Further information about this course will be available later in Fall Term; meanwhile, students' expressions of interest in particular topics in this very broad field (to the instructor in person or by e-mail, are welcome. (Howard)

351. Race and American Cinema. (4). (HU). Laboratory fee ($35) required.

This course focuses on an analysis of the representation of racial and ethnic groups in Hollywood cinema, followed by a study of films that members of those groups have made about themselves. We will study how Hollywood developed certain stereotypes or reacted against them. We will also look at films from recent independent cinema to see how these films have followed the established pattern of images or, on the contrary, have intended to represent their own communities. Films viewed are examples from classical American cinema of the '40s and '70s to the present, mostly fictional representations, using some appropriate documentaries. We will discuss representation of African/Asian/Native Americans, and Latinas/os, looking at both content and form, use of cinematographic language and construction of meaning, from an eclectic choice of theoretical positions. Films are the main texts, with insight from readings. The course has two lectures, two film showings, and a small discussion group per week. A journal of film criticism, a term paper, and a class presentation are required. Cost:3 WL:1 (De La Vega-Hurtado)

374/Hist. 374. The Politics and Culture of the "Sixties." (3). (SS).

The current debate over the 1960s and the history of that decade mirror the very essence of American culture. This was a decade of peace, optimism, cultural turbulence, despair, war, and frustration. It was a time when basic assumptions and institutions were challenged. This course will explore the nature of American society and its people through a look at the social movements of the 1960s. A variety of topics will be used for this exploration, including the origins of the counterculture, the entertainment market, popular music forms, the Civil Rights movement, popular culture, political action movements, the family, poverty, Vietnam, the Women's and Gay Rights movements, and racial oppression. The course will meet for four hours per week, in both lecture and discussion sections. Along with class discussions, students will keep a journal and write several short papers. The course will also have midterm and final examinations. WL:1 (Sanchez and Countryman)

388. Field Study. Sophomore standing. (1-4). (Excl). Offered mandatory credit/no credit. (EXPERIENTIAL). May be repeated for credit with permission.
Section 020 Field Work in Multi-Cultural Communities. (3 credits).
For Winter Term 1997, this section is offered jointly with Psychology 305.003. (Gutierrez)

Section 153 Practicum in the Latino Community. (3 credits). For Winter Term, 1997, this section is offered jointly with Psychology 305.002. It satisfies the community service learning requirement for the Latino/a Studies concentration. There has been a change in course number from AC 310.001. Students need to come to G410 Mason Hall for an electronic override since the course is independent study. (JosÈ Kampfner)

398. Junior Honors Writing Workshop. Permission of a concentration advisor in American Culture. (1-3). (Excl).

See American Culture 350. (Sanchez)

399(UC 299). Race, Racism, and Ethnicity. (4). (SS). (This course meets the Race and Ethnicity Requirement).

This course will use historical and theoretical approaches toward understanding racism and its dynamics of power, domination, subordination, and resistance. The syllabus and series of lectures will be explicitly interdisciplinary, the teaching staff drawn from Psychology, English, American Culture, and probably law and science as well. The course is built upon imaginative and interpretive literature, personal narratives, and other texts in the voices of these various groups: Native Americans, Latina/o peoples, Jewish Americans, European Americans, Asian/Pacific Americans, Arab Americans, and African-Americans. Course materials, lectures, and discussion will profile the groups and interpret histories of their interactions as well as analyze diversity within each. Domination and resistance - and their costs are a common experience to these groups but from different points of view and through specific mechanisms varying from group to group. Four weekly hours of class meeting (two in lecture, two in discussion sections) are required, as are two papers of 10-12 pages each and weekly responses to assigned readings. WL:1 (Almaguer)

401. Race and Racialization in the Americas. Amer. Cult. 212 or 213, and 312. (3). (Excl).
Section 001 Comparative Processes of Racialization in the Americas.
This course will examine the development of categories of race and the institutionalization of racism in Brazil, Puerto Rico, the U.S., and Mexico from an interdisciplinary perspective. Departing from the idea that race has never been biologically fixed but rather culturally embedded, we will critically read anthropological, historical, and literary works which address themes such as: the connection between various gendered and racialist regimes, the role of science in racialization, the historical links between slavery, violence, and racism, and finally, imperialism and colonialism as processes central to the making of modern racialist discourse and practices especially in terms of U.S.-Latin American relations. This historical inquiry will be accompanied with critical attention to contemporary representations of race including popular culture/music, debates about human intelligence, and the multiple meanings of multiculturalism. WL:1 (Koreck)

403/Phil. 403/Rel. 403. American Philosophy. One Philosophy Introduction. (3). (Excl).

See Philosophy 403. (Meiland)

404/Soc. 404. Hispanic-Americans: Social Problems and Social Issues. Junior or senior standing. (3). (Excl).

See Sociology 404. (Pedraza)

430/WS 430. Feminist Thought. Amer. Cult. 240 and one 340-level WS course, or permission of instructor. (3). (Excl).
Section 001 Philosophical Topics in the Study of Gender.
For Winter Term, 1997, this course is offered jointly with Philosophy 372. (Haslanger)

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

A two-credit optional oral history component connected to this class by P/I. Contact the American Culture Program for additional information.

Section 001 Ethnic Entrepreneurship as Urban History. This course surveys the history of Ethnic entrepreneurship in urban America. African-American entrepreneurship is the primary, although not exclusive, focus. The intent of the course is: (1) to strengthen the student's knowledge of minority entrepreneurship; (2) to examine the history and tradition of African-American entrepreneurship in the face of systematic discrimination, prejudice, and oppression; (3) to examine myths and stereotypes that exist relevant to African-American entrepreneurship; (4) to explore internal issues and debates within the African-American community regarding Black capitalism and Black economic development; (5) to compare and contrast African-American entrepreneurial experiences and issues with other immigrant entrepreneurs such as Latinos and Asians; and (6) to contribute to the development and understanding of African-American and other ethnic entrepreneurs. Course pack available at Mich Documents. (Brown)

Section 002 Michigan in the Era of Industrialization. For Winter Term, 1997, this section is offered jointly with History 396.006. (Blouin)

Section 004 Urban Black Communities in Historical Perspective: Black Urban Youth. For Winter Term, 1997, this section is offered jointly with Afroamerican and African Studies 358.002. (Theoharis)

Section 005 Law and Society in American History. For Winter Term, 1997, this section is offered jointly with History 396.005. (Green)

Section 006 United States Social and Cultural Thought since 1945. For Winter Term, 1997, this section is offered jointly with History 396.002. (C·ndida Smith)

Section 007 American Imperialism Across the Pacific: The Michigan Connection. For Winter Term, 1997, this section is offered jointly with RC Social Science 460.002. (Nomura)

498. Literary Approaches to American Culture. (3). (Excl). May be repeated for credit with permission.
Section 001 North and South American Literature.
For Winter Term, 1997, this section is offered jointly with English 473.002. (McIntosh)

Section 002 Survival This Way: Contemporary Native American Poetry. This is an advanced course designed for the serious student of the poetry of native North America. The specific objectives of the course are to create a deeper and broader understanding of this poetry that reflects the different cultural regions from which these poets sprang. We will hear and see how the poem that became a book Honors its oral ancestry. Special attention will be paid to the contemporary poets and the historical, cultural, and individual dimensions of their poetic acts. We will see how the poetic imagination thrives by its contradictions and rebels against any form of oppression. (Niatum)

Section 003 Latin American and Latino Theatre. In this course students will read major dramatic works in 20th-century Latin America as well as in the U.S. Latino/a context. Emphasis will be placed on theatre as a dramatic space where social conflicts such as race, class, political conflict and gender, among others, are enacted. Tentative readings will include Griselda Gambaro, Emilio Carballido, Luis Rafael S·nchez, Francisco ArrivÌ, Cherrie Moraga, and others. Students will engage in critical readings as well as perform some of these texts. Prerequisites are three Spanish courses at the 300-level. This course will be taught by Dolores Prida, renowned Cuban-American playwright. (Prida)

Courses in Spanish

224(307)/Spanish 290. Spanish for U.S. Latinos. Basic knowledge of Spanish language or permission of instructor. (4). (Excl). This course does not satisfy the language requirement.

See Spanish 290. (Cepeda)

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. 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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