Issues in American Studies
This foundation course introduces students to both the historical and the theoretical dimensions of American studies. The course will emphasize the variety of projects being done in the field, including those that examine questions of nationhood and national identity, ethnography, gender, and popular culture. The course focuses on the characteristics that these projects share, including the commitment to interdisciplinarity, study of the connections and disconnections between elite and popular forms, and the examination of the role of the intellectual in cultural practice. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Spring semester, offered 2011/12 and alternate years.Marchand.
American Places with Wilderness Places
Almost no one today disputes the importance of preserving wild tracts of land. While there's disagreement about the size, location and uses of wilderness areas, it's hard to imagine anyone arguing that we should open every acre in America to development. This shared conviction that there's something valuable about wilderness is of fairly recent origin. For example, the very mountains that we celebrate for their majestic beauty were once viewed as "ugly protuberances" that defaced the natural landscape. This course will examine America's changing perceptions of wild landscapes, from the early settlers, who viewed the "howling wilderness" as the devil's den, to our own view of wilderness areas as places of recreation. This examination of how writers, visual artists, philosophers, and early environmentalists changed America's attitudes towards wild landscape offers a striking case study in how our relationship to nature is shaped by culture. Variable. Department.