You are on page 1of 7

AMST 202: Historical Approaches to American Studies Spring 2014 Tuesday/Thursday 12:30-1:45 Murphey 204 Professor Seth Kotch

sethkotch@unc.edu 226 Greenlaw Hall Office hours: T, 10:30-11:30

Course Description: This course explores core principles and practices in American Studies by touching on major developments in American history and culture that still affect us today, including racial justice, gender equity, immigration, poverty, memory and mythmaking, and environmentalism. It moves forward from the Civil War to the present, using a wide-ranging study of the past to examine American meanings and myths. Target Audience and Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites for this course. AMST 202 is a required course for American Studies majors and minors. It is a Historical Analysis (HS) and North Atlantic World (NA) course. Goals: Explore American Studies through sources used by American Studies scholars, including manuscripts, literature, and oral history. Encounter and evaluate examples of successful scholarship. Understand contemporary conversations and controversies in a historic context. Develop communication, research, presentation, collaboration and writing skills. Practices and Policies: This is a seminar and your active participation is essential to making this class worth attending. Please attend class and participate, both by speaking in class discussion and posting on our course page on Reddit. Students receiving good participation grades attend class (yes, I am taking attendance), participate in discussion, and post comments online. You will be doing at least some talking and lots of listening in this class. Please do both respectfully. The controversial, the political, the unpopularall these have a place in this class. Disrespect, disregard, and discrimination do not. Before each discussion, no later than 11:30, please post a comment in the appropriate discussion thread on Reddit. Your comment might raise an important question, share your opinion on the subject of the reading, compare and contrast two readings, draw in personal experience or current events, or more. Please vote up classmates comments that you find worthy of discussion. Your comments and votes will help guide class discussion. Drafts: I will read drafts of your written material and give you comments if you submit it to me well in advance of the due date. I require two full weekdays to comment on the draft before giving it back to you. Computers: Feel free to use your computer in class, but please use your computer for class. Its not too hard to tell whether you are taking notes or using KidZone.biz, or whatever websites college students use these days.

AMST 202: Historical Approaches to American Studies (Spring 2014)

The Honor Code: I expect your full participation in and observation of the universitys honor code. I, too, must do so and am obligated to report suspected academic dishonesty to the Honor Court. If you have any questions about Carolinas honor codeincluding about plagiarism, which is the easiest way to stumble unintentionally into a violationplease feel free to speak with me or visit studentconduct.unc.edu. Assignments & Evaluation These brief descriptions should give you a general sense of my expectations for these assignments. Detailed rubrics and ample time for questions will be provided. Twenty-Minute Histories (15%): Two students will give a twenty-minute research-based presentation on the era (the 1950s) or the subject (environmentalism) at hand. The presentation should include visual elements such as pictures and film excerpts; important names and dates; and key ideas and developments related to the period or subject on which you are presenting. The format of the presentation (PowerPoint or not, prerecorded or not, how you divide your time) is entirely up to you. We are not using a textbook in this course and these presentations will provide essential historic context. The purpose of this assignment is to practice synthesizing and presenting information and to gain collaboration experience. Research Portfolio (15%): Each time we visit the archives, you will complete a metadata worksheet that describes three manuscripts you examined using some pre-provided categories. Your Research Portfolio, comprised of your worksheets and a two-page summary of your findings, will refine and improve this minimal information and draw out the key themes of the three manuscripts. The point of this exercise is to develop research and comprehension skills. Visit America! (20%): Imagine that you are an over-educated tour guide at a site, selected by you, of American historic and cultural significance. Your job is to use a five to seven-page paper to thoroughly describe the site, explain and interpret its history, and analyze the sites significance in American history and culture. The purpose of this assignment is to think historically about the present and cultivate engaging writing skills. Participation (25%): Your online and in-class participation are key to making this class work. In class, your participation is measured by your attendance, attention, and contributions. Frequent, thoughtful, and timely contributions to Reddit constitute appropriate participation online. There will be occasional reading quizzes to give you the occasional chance to demonstrate that you did the reading another way. Final Exam (25%): The final exam is a take-home, open-book paper six to eight pages in length or the equivalent online presentation or documentary. Please write a brief history of the present, selecting an idea, an event, an artistic or social movement, or other subject and describe its history with attention to its cultural significance. Your final product might be an analysis of the cultural significance of a historic event; a reflection on a recent historic anniversary; a family history of your own family or someone elses that draws on interviews, documentary work, and/or manuscript research; an intellectual history of a commonly held belief; the history of a building or monument on UNCs campus; or something else. You are responsible for generating your topic, which you will submit to me for comment well in advance of the exam. The purpose of this assignment is to draw together the various skills you have developed over the semester.

AMST 202: Historical Approaches to American Studies (Spring 2014) Required Text Most texts are available through this syllabus at amst.202.web.unc.edu/syllabus and/or through the librarys site. (Some require onyen login, so be aware of that if you are trying to access the articles off campus.) You need to secure just one book for this course: Jack Black, You Cant Win (1926) Important Dates February 13: Visit America! paper due April 3: Research Portfolio due April 15: Final Project topic due May 2 (12:00): Final project due Resources Course website: amst202.web.unc.edu Reddit page: reddit.com/r/amst202 Schedule This schedule is subject to change, but will not be changed without warning.

I. The Basics This unit will introduce, or reintroduce, you to some of the basic concepts and methods in play in American Studies: race, constructivism, and ideology; cultural history; and social history. Thursday, January 9: Introductions Tuesday, January 14: Cultural History Lawrence Levine, The Folklore of Industrial Society: Popular Culture and Its Audiences, in The Unpredictable Past: Explorations in American Cultural History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993; published online 2013). Thursday, January 16: Social History Eric Harvey, The Social History of the MP3, Pitchfork (August 29, 2009). Guion Griffis Johnson, Ante-Bellum North Carolina: A Social History (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1937): 191-223. Tuesday, January 21: Race and Ideology in the American Past and Present Barbara J. Fields, Slavery, Race, and Ideology in the United States of America, New Left Review, vol. 1, no. 181 (May-June 1990), 95-118. II. Recovering from the Civil War This unit will explore the aftermath of the Civil War in the United States, both direct and indirect, seeking to understand how Americans defined and redefined themselves after the catastrophic conflict, particularly in the West and the South. Thursday, January 23: What Slavery Was Like Presentation 0: A History of the History of Slavery Norman Yetman, An Introduction to the WPA Slave Narratives, Library of Congress WPA Slave Narratives (choose five among the many to read)

AMST 202: Historical Approaches to American Studies (Spring 2014)

Tuesday, January 28: The Lost Cause & Memorialization Presentation 1: The Civil War, Reconstruction, and Redemption Blain Roberts, Uncovering the Confederacy of the Mind Or, How I Became a Belle of the Ball in Denmark Veseys Old Church, Southern Cultures, vol. 19, no. 3 (Fall 2013): 6-24. Grace Elizabeth Hale, The Lost Cause and the Meaning of History, OAH Magazine of History, vol. 27, no. 1 (2013): 13-17. Thursday, January 30: American Indians in an Expanding United States Presentation 2: American Indians after the Civil War David Hurst Thomas, Skull Wars: Kennewick Man, Archaeology, and the Battle for Native American Identity (New York: Basic Books, 2000): 29-120. Tuesday, February 4: Acting Modern Presentation 3: Victorian America John F. Kasson, Rudeness and Civility: Manners in Nineteenth-Century Urban America (New York: Hill and Wang), 1990: Chs. 4 & 6. Thursday, February 6: Thinking West Frederick Jackson Turner, The Significance of the Frontier in American History (1893) William Cronon, A Place for Stories: Nature, History, and Narrative, The Journal of American History, Vol. 78, No. 4 (March 1992): 1347-1376 Tuesday, February 11: You Cant Win? Presentation 4: Railroads and the West Jack Black, You Cant Win (Macmillan, 1926) Thursday, February 13: Archival Research Experience Part I Meet in Wilson Library. **Visit America! paper due.** Tuesday, February 18: Jim Crow Presentation 5: The Jim Crow South Ray Sprigal, In the Land of Jim Crow (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1949): selections. Hodding Carter, Jim Crows Other Side, in George B. de Huszar, ed., Equality in America: The Issue in Minority Rights (New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1949): 89-103. III. Crisis and Conflict This unit explores Americas entry into the 20th Century with a focus on battles over identity anad with an eye toward some major crises and events: the Philippine-American War, the Great Depression, and World War II. Thursday, February 20: Imperial America? Presentation 6: The Philippine-American War Matthew Frye Jacobson, Imperial Amnesia: Teddy Roosevelt, the Philippines, and the Modern Art of Forgetting, Radical History Review, no. 73 (1999): 116-27. Mark Twain, To the Person Sitting in Darkness (New York: Anti-Imperialist League of New York, 1901).

AMST 202: Historical Approaches to American Studies (Spring 2014)

(optional) Elmer A. Ordonez, The Other View: The Philippine-American War, Manila Times, 5 August 2006, np. Tuesday, February 25: The 1920s Presentation 7: The 1920s George Chauncey, Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940 (New York: Basic Books, 1995): Intro, Chs. 2 & 3. Thursday, February 27: The Difficult 1930s Presentation 8: The Great Depression and the New Deal Lawrence Levine, American Culture and the Great Depression, in Levine, The Unpredictable Past: Explorations in American Cultural History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993; published online 2013). Tuesday, March 4: Race Overseas during World War II Presentation 9: World War II John Dower, War without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War (New York: Pantheon, 1987): Chs. 1, 4, & 9. (optional) Krystyn R. Moon, "There's No Yellow in the Red, White, and Blue": The Creation of Anti-Japanese Music during World War II, Pacific Historical Review, vol. 72, no. 2 (August 2003): 333-52. Thursday, March 6: Archival Research Experience Part II Meet in Wilson Library. Tuesday, March 11: NO CLASS (Spring Break) Thursday, March 13: NO CLASS (Spring Break) IV. The Civil Rights Era The civil rights era was a long one, but it became most visible in the 1950s and 1960s. In this unit, we will explore cultural change in the 1950s and 1960s, some wrought by activists seeking equal citizenship, some wrought by artists challenging cultural norms. Tuesday, March 18: The Social Crises of the 1950s Presentation 10: The 1950s Glenn C. Altschuler, All Shook Up: How Rock n Roll Changed America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004): Chs. 3 & 4. Thursday, March 20: The War on Poverty Presentation 11: LBJ and the War on Poverty Michael Harrington, The Other America (New York: Scribner, 1997; orig. pub. 1962): Chs. 1, 4, & 6. Harold Meyerson, Seeing What No One Else Could See, The American Prospect, 21 June 2012, published online. Tuesday, March 25: The Classical Phase of the Civil Rights Movement Presentation 12: The Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s Jay Jennings, ed., Escape Velocity: A Charles Portis Miscellany (New York: The Overlook Press, 2013): 36-62. William F. Buckley, Why the South Must Prevail, National Review, 24 August 1957.

AMST 202: Historical Approaches to American Studies (Spring 2014) Bayard Rustin, From Protest to Politics: The Future of the Civil Rights Movement, Commentary, 1 February 1965, published online. Thursday, March 27: Archival Research Experience Part III Meet in Wilson Library. Tuesday, April 1: The Civil Rights Movement after Martin Luther King Presentation 13: The Civil Rights Movement in the 1970s and Beyond Jacquelyn Hall, The Long Civil Rights Movement and the Political Uses of the Past, The Journal of American History, vol. 91, no. 4 (March 2005), 1233-1263. Martin Luther King, I Have a Dream. (Watch and read some background.) V. The Making of Modern America This unit addresses the recent history of some of Americas cultural and environmental monoliths: college sports, the outdoors, prisons, and the City of Angels, Los Angeles. Thursday, April 3: The NCAA Taylor Branch, The Shame of College Sports, The Atlantic, October 2011. ** Research Portfolio due**

Tuesday, April 8: Modern Environmentalism William Cronon, The Trouble with Wilderness, Or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature, in Cronon, ed., Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1995): 69-90. Richard White, Are You an Environmentalist or Do You Work for a Living?: Work and Nature, in Cronon, ed., Uncommon Ground, pp. 171-84. (optional) Jonathan Rosen, The Birds, The New Yorker, 6 January 2014, 62-7. Thursday, April 10: TBD Tuesday, April 15: The Politics of Imprisonment Heather Ann Thompson, Why Mass Incarceration Matters: Rethinking Crisis, Decline, and Transformation in Postwar American History, The Journal of American History, vol. 93, no. 3 (December 2010): 703-734. **Final Project Topic due** Thursday, April 17: Gender Equity since the Civil Rights Movement Abigail Pogrebin, How Do You Spell Ms. New York, 30 October, 2011. Gloria Steinem, A Bunnys Tale, Show, May 1 and June 1, 1963. Stephanie Coontz, Why Gender Equality Stalled, New York Times, 16 February 2013, pg. SR1. Tuesday, April 22: The American City Mike Davis, City of Quartz, selections TBD. Thursday, April 24: Visit to the Ackland to view Robert Franks The Americans. Friday, May 2: FINAL EXAM. Due at 12:00 in our classroom.

AMST 202: Historical Approaches to American Studies (Spring 2014)