Introduction to American Civilization

Time: Tuesday, Thursday 12-1:15 PM

Location: Sweeney Hall 100


Course Description: American Studies1A and 1B provide a thematic and chronological look at the rich and diverse culture that has developed in what is now the United States from the era of the First Americans (American Indians) through constant waves of immigration from abroad to the present. In American Studies 1A, we traced the story of the U.S. from the experiences of indigenous peoples prior to first contact with Europeans and Africans up through the mid-nineteenth century and the effects of the Civil War. In 1B, we will pick up the story in the aftermath of the Civil War, and add new migrations of Europeans, Asian Pacific people, and Latinos, to the social, cultural, and political development of the United States. We will look not only at the monumental historical events and key historical figures, but we will also examine the everyday lives of Americans in a variety of circumstances as they sought, individually and collectively, to negotiate their way in the world. Throughout the course we will examine the pluralist and changing nature of American society and will emphasize the roles of women, immigrants, and people of color in American history. As we look at the varied perspectives of people throughout the unfolding of our history, we will examine the choices and the consequences of their decisions. This course is interdisciplinary. It draws heavily and interactively from the fields of history, literature, political science, and philosophy. Art, music, architecture, technology, religion, and popular culture all play a role in shaping American culture; thus, all these fields are within the scope of this class. We will examine the complex and multifaceted character of our cultural heritage by connecting and integrating many fields of study. AMS 1B is divided into interwoven components: a lecture period that rotates among the three professors, followed by separate seminar groups headed by each of the three professors in which you will discuss and analyze the material presented in the lectures and the assigned readings for that day. Your seminar instructor will discuss other seminar requirements. Attendance at all class meetings—both lectures and seminar—is strongly recommended. Lectures may draw from the ideas suggested in the assigned readings but they do not duplicate that material; you will not be able to find an alternate source for the information that you miss. You should bring the assigned readings to the lecture and seminar. Your seminar professor may grade you on your participation in the seminar.

Course Documents

Green sheet for class