Fordham University: Major Developments in American Culture
Fordham University---American Studies 2000---Major Developments in American Culture---Spring 2008
Instructor: Glenn Hendler
- An introduction to American cultural studies and a narrative cultural history of the United States from the late eighteenth century to the present, designed for students with an interest in the American Studies major but relevant for majors in other fields such as History and English. The major developments addressed may include events and problems such as the origins of American nationalism, Native American/European encounters, the institution of slavery, early social movements such as abolitionism and feminism; the "Market Revolution," the frontier and the border, imperial expansion, immigration and exclusion, new social movements since the 1960s, globalization, and the rise of the prison-industrial complex. As we learn about these developments through extensive readings in primary documents (including visual art, fiction, poetry, film, letters, and speeches) as well as secondary readings from a range of disciplines and interdisciplines , students will hone their analytic skills by tracing the recurrence of keywords such as "democracy," "empire," "ethnicity," "immigration," "market," "marriage," "society," and "white" through these readings. There will also be at least one class visit to a local institution that deals with U.S. culture, such as the New-York Historical Society, the Museum of the City of New York, or the Museum of Chinese in America. Assessment will be based on short individual essays, small-group collaborative projects, in-class and on-line discussions, and a final exam.
This project gives students a thread to follow through all of the course's readings and discussions, and an opportunity to use that thread to tie the course together at the end. The project continues through the whole semester, and it is quite complex. However, there are three major elements, all of which are collaborative:
- Tracking a keyword (and other keywords the group determines are closely related to it) through the readings, lectures and discussions every week
- Revising a dictionary entry on that keyword
- Writing a keyword essay about the role of that keyword in this course
These elements are closely connected. The first takes place on Blackboard; the other two take place here in the Keyword Collaboratories. To read about the two taking place here, and to observe what is taking place so far, click on the links below. Please note: Anyone is welcome to look at these pages as they develop, and to comment using the "discussion" link. However, only members of a working group should actually edit their page. The whole collaboratory structure depends on this rule being respected, and violations will be taken very seriously.
I will post a complete syllabus and a complete account of this assignment in the "Resources for Instructors" section for the benefit of other instructors interesting in developing a similar project for their students.
As soon as you've been approved as a collaboratory participant (and to make sure you have been approved), go into the page linked below. In it you'll find the e-mail addresses of all members of the class, including yours. Open the "edit" tab for the page, change the e-mail address to your actual name, and feel free to add a couple of words afterward. For example, if your name is Jane Doe, you'll change "email@example.com" to Jane Doe, and can add "was here" after your name. Save the page, and you should see a sentence that says "Jane Doe was here." If you can't make this change, you aren't properly signed in or haven't been approved yet. Make sure you're signed in, and if you are, check with me to get yourself approved as a participant.