Course Details

050:489:01 - Seminar in American Studies

  • Course ID: 050:489:01
  • Credits: 3
  • Instructor Name: Backes
  • Instructor (Core Faculty): Backes, Matt

This seminar looks at the ways that people in the United States locate themselves in space. We will explore a range of questions relating to identity and experience. What does it mean to be from somewhere? How does one establish and maintain a sense of place? When and under what circumstances does that sense chance? We will also consider the physical spaces and places that American society has produced and in which American lives unfold. Topics in the class range from dialect humor to Las Vegas architecture, from the mythic West to cyberspace, from the European Grand Tour to the drive-through restaurant. Course texts include novels, films, and memoirs, as well as works of history, geography, and anthropology. The class incorporates a historical view, examining the interplay of localism, regionalism, and cosmopolitanism in American life as well as the changing face of the American landscape over two centuries, but ultimately our focus is on contemporary culture and the problems of space and place therein.