Syllabus101_fall08

Syllabus101_fall08 - Introduction to American Studies: The...

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Introduction to American Studies: The Past and Future in American Culture American Studies 050:101 Fall 2008 Prof. Matthew Backes Office Hours: Tues. 3:30-5:30 (and by appt) backes@rci.rutgers.edu Office Location: RAB 205-E “Give me insight into today and you may have the antique and future worlds.” --Ralph Waldo Emerson “As you live, believe in life! Always human beings will live and progress to greater, broader and fuller life. The only possible death is to lose belief in this truth simply because the great end comes slowly, because time is long.” --W.E.B. Du Bois Description This course is an introduction to methods and central themes in the field of American Studies. Students will learn to evaluate and make cultural sense of a wide range of sources—films, literature, music, material objects, photographs. We will also survey a variety of major developments in American cultural life, past and present. Members of the American Studies faculty will present guest lectures throughout the semester, offering further introduction to a range of topics and influential approaches in the field. The special concern of this class is the meaning of the past and the future in American culture. By many accounts, the United States—whether imagined as a nation outside of time, a harbinger of an unfolding providential plan, or a society forever straining toward expansion and self-invention with little concern for custom or tradition—stands in a peculiar relationship to both the bygone and the yet to be. We will consider the ways various American identities have taken shape around novel understandings of the past and future, and we will explore some of the most important expressions of memory, historical imagination, prophecy, and futurity in American life. Required Texts Appleby, Joyce. Capitalism and a New Social Order: The Republican Vision of the 1790s . New York: New York University Press, 1984. Bellamy, Edward. Looking Backward, 2000-1887 . 1888. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. Hass, Kristin Ann.
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Syllabus101_fall08 - Introduction to American Studies: The...

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