Fall 2013, Winter 2014 and Spring 2014 quarters
- Susan Preciso English literature , Mark Harrison theatre, opera, film, performance studies
- Fields of Study
- American studies, history, literature and media studies
“Culture is simply the ensemble of stories we tell ourselves about ourselves” (Clifford Geertz).
Those stories, our national myths and cultural icons, will provide the lens through which we will examine American history in this year-long program. Students will study works of fiction, film, and history in order to learn how our culture shapes our understanding of past and present realities. Each quarter students will incorporate quantitative methods to enrich and explain aspects of American culture. We’ll look at cultural products, from high art to popular culture with a particular focus on film and literature, to see how they reflect and shape our ideas about who and what we are. Our study will be organized around three turbulent decades in American history.
During Fall Quarter, we will consider the post-Civil War years, to include Reconstruction and western expansion. From dime novels to Hollywood westerns, we’ll examine how deeply we are shaped by 19th and 20th century frontier ideology. Money and technology—capitalism and the railroads—also drove westward migration. We’ll see the tensions around race and class as they figure in film, novels, and popular culture.
Winter quarter, we will move to the 1930s. How did the Great Depression and the policy created to deal with that crisis change the way we see government? What was the impact of two great migrations—from the dust bowl states to the West, and from the agricultural South to the industrial north—on American society? In such a time of hardship and deprivation, how did the Golden Age of Hollywood reflect our cultural realities through genre films, such as the screwball comedy, the musical, and the gangster film?
In the spring, we’ll focus on the 1950s and ‘60s and how upward—and outward—mobility informed who and where we are today. The Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War transformed the country. Cars, freeways, and the rise of the suburbs re-shaped the cultural landscape, and television expanded the scope of mass media and popular culture.
Our work will include critical reading of books and films. Students will be expected to learn about schools of cultural criticism, using different approaches to enrich their analyses. They will be expected to participate in seminar, lectures, workshops, and library research and to attend field trips to local museums and live theater performances.
Credits may be awarded in American studies (literature, art and history), moving image, and mathematics.
- Advertised Schedule
- 6-9:30p Wed, 10a-5p Sat (5 Saturdays per quarter, fall: Oct. 12, 26, Nov. 9, 16, Dec. 7; winter and spring TBA)
- Campus Location
- Online Learning
- Enhanced Online Learning
- Greener Store
- Required Fees
- $25 per quarter for museum/theatre entrance fees
- Offered During
- Evening and Weekend
|May 9th, 2013||Description updated.|
|May 9th, 2013||Schedule changed to meet Wednesdays and five Saturdays.|