Syllabus - 1 AMER 3300 The Americas: Identity, Culture,...

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1 AMER 3300 The Americas: Identity, Culture, Power Fall 2009 Instructor: Prof. César Seveso University of Houston Email: Blackboard Vista; for emergencies Teaching Assistant: Mr. Clayton Lust University of Houston, Distance Education Course Description This course is designed to offer you a novel and innovative alternative to conventional classes in the humanities and social sciences. Truly interdisciplinary, the course draws on faculty from ten academic departments and schools. You will be able to access the course’s lectures by going to the following site: This class is also genuinely comparative and hemispheric. Unlike traditional "American Studies" programs, which define their subject matter exclusively by the geopolitical boundaries of the United States, this course takes a hemispheric approach that also encompasses the "other Americas": Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. This course emphasizes three broad themes. The first is identity. Here we are interested in the shifting ways that individuals have conceived and experienced their identity and their relationship to larger communities. We are especially interested in the ways that identity has been defined along--and across--racial, sex/gender, age/generational, ethnic, geographic, religious, and national lines. Thus, we are concerned about the way political, economic, historical, and social forces have shaped identities. Using the tools of anthropology, history, literary criticism, political science, psychology, and sociology, we will examine the ways in which identity has been represented and studied both by "insiders" and "outsiders," as well as the processes through which identity has been repressed, celebrated, altered, multiplied, and extended. A second major theme is culture. We are not only interested in the "high culture" of elite intellectual and artistic activity, but also in "popular cultures," "folk cultures," "political cultures," and "commercial mass cultures" and the complex relationships among them. While our course will pay close attention to the "hegemonic" cultures that achieve a degree of dominance at particular times and places, we are equally interested in various subcultures and countercultures that offer alternative forms of artistic expression and values and that have repeatedly challenged and transformed dominant cultures. We are especially interested in issues of cultural resistance, transformation, domination, and colonialism as well as the possibilities of post-colonialism. A central issue that we will explore is the intricate connection between culture as expressed in the
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2 arts, literature, music, and philosophy and the more holistic and inclusive anthropological conception of culture as particular communities' ways of life. Drawing upon approaches offered by anthropology, art, literary criticism, musicology, philosophy, sociology, we will examine the
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This note was uploaded on 10/29/2009 for the course AMER 3300 taught by Professor Serveso during the Spring '09 term at University of Houston.

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Syllabus - 1 AMER 3300 The Americas: Identity, Culture,...

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