Introductory Courses

American Studies 10 At Home in America

  • day and time TTh 12:30-2
  • location Remote (See below for more information)
  • instructor K. Moran and C. Palmer
  • 4 Units

W 12-1
W 1-2
Th 2-3
Th 3-4

NOTE: Lectures will be a combination of synchronous/recorded and asynchronous/recorded. Any student can be accommodated.

Synchronous discussion section attendance is required.

As a metaphor for being and belonging, HOME is central to exploring American history, politics, literature, culture, architecture, race relations, economics, folklore, and popular culture. By focusing on the American home as a place, a theory, an experience, a fantasy, and a media construct, this course provides an introduction to the interdisciplinary study of America.

Time Courses

American Studies 101 The Harlem Renaissance

  • day and time TTh 9:30-11
  • location Remote - Please see below for more information
  • instructor C. Palmer/B. Wagner
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 21398

NOTE: Lectures will be a combination of synchronous/recorded and asynchronous/recorded. Any student can be accommodated.

This course explores the social, cultural, political and personal awakenings in the literature, art and music of the Negro Renaissance or the New Negro Movement, known as the Harlem Renaissance.  This is remembered as a time (roughly 1918-1930) when, in the midst of legal segregation and increasing anti-Black mob violence, Black American writers, artists, philosophers, activists, and musicians, congregating in New York City’s Harlem, reclaimed the right to represent themselves in a wide range of artistic forms and activist movements

Langston Hughes remembered the Harlem Renaissance as the time “when the Negro was in vogue”—a time when Black American art and artists captured the attention of the world. George Schuyler held that the Harlem Renaissance was neither a representative nor a definitive moment for Blacks in America. Alain Locke, whose The New Negro (1925) was instrumental in revealing the Black talent burgeoning in Harlem, asked in 1931, “Has the afflatus of Negro self-expression died down? Are we outliving the Negro Fad?” Implicit in each of these positions are a set of questions about the nature of identity, art, modernism, progress, which point to the dilemma as defined by W.E.B. Du Bois in The Souls of Black Folk in 1903: “One ever feels his twoness—an American, a Negro: two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings, two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.” At stake: who were, and are, Black Americans? What was distinctive about Black art? What gave it such broad, international appeal? Could art be used to uplift the conditions of a people? Were Black artists obligated to make their art a means of protest against racism? If they were, would they produce art or propaganda? What were the general social, cultural, political and economic conditions of the period during which the Harlem Renaissance developed? How was the Black art that presented and challenged social conventions both shaped by those conventions and able to disengage from them? Our task in this course is to figure out what explains the Harlem Renaissance and what its most important legacies are.

English 174 The Seventies

  • day and time TBA
  • location TBA
  • instructor S. Saul
  • 4 Units

As one historian has quipped, it was the worst of times, it was the worst of times“The ’70s” routinely come in for mockery: even at the time, it was known as the decade when “it seemed like nothing happened.”

Yet we can see now that the ’70s was a time of cultural renaissance. It gave us the New Hollywood of Scorcese, Coppola and others; the music of funk, disco, punk and New Wave; the postmodern comedy of Saturday Night Live and the postmodern drama of Off-Off-Broadway; and a great range of literary fiction written by women authors from Ursula LeGuin and Margaret Atwood to Toni Morrison and Maxine Hong Kingston. It was also a period of intense political realignments — the moment the United States was roiled by the oil crisis, the fall of Nixon and the fall of Saigon; by the advent of women’s liberation, gay liberation, and environmentalism as mass grassroots movements; and by the rise of the Sunbelt and the dawning of the conservative revolution. One might even say that the ’70s were the most interesting decade of the post-WWII era — the period when the dreams of the ‘60s were most intensely, if achingly, fulfilled.

Lastly, the ’70s may be the decade closest to our own contemporary moment. We will consider how the roots of our current predicament lie in the earlier decade — with its backlash against movements for racial justice, its gun culture, its corruption of the political process, its fetish for self-fulfillment, and its fascination with the appeal of instant and often empty celebrity. We will, in turn, reflect on how Americans in the ’70s struggled with many of the dilemmas that we face now.

The last time this course was taught, the students in the class collaborated to produce The Godfather: Anatomy of a Film” — a site that approaches the film from 18 different angles (and that now receives around 300-400 visitors per day). We will aim to produce a similarly collective project about another artistic touchstone of the 1970s.

Place Courses

American Studies 102 American Themescapes

  • day and time MW 2-4
  • location Remote - Asynchronous
  • instructor K.Moran/A. Shanken
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 26522
NOTE: ALL LECTURES WILL BE RECORDED AND WILL BE ASYNCHRONOUS. ALTHOUGH STUDENTS MAY ABLE TO TUNE IN DURING THE CLASS PERIOD, IF THEY SO WISH.

From Disney to Las Vegas, Americans frequently encounter environments that are self-consciously themed, rather than unconsciously developed. These spaces have been dismissed as fake, artificial, evidence of postmodern alienation, even of the homogenizing effects of the global economy. This course expands the repertoire of themed environments and reevaluates their meaning in American life. Close attention will be paid to the obvious sites of theming: world’s fairs, consumer environments, and suburbs, but also to how theming has penetrated film, advertising, “nature,” leisure, historic preservation, and museums.

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American Studies 102 The Great American City: Chicago in the Nineteenth Century

  • day and time MW 10-12
  • location Remote - Asynchronous
  • instructor S. Gold McBride
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 21399

THIS COURSE SIMULTANEOUSLY SATISFIES BOTH THE PLACE AND PRE-1900 MAJOR REQUIREMENTS

NOTE: All lecture content will be asynchronous. Class meetings (which will focus on discussion and work with sources) will be held live on Wednesdays 10am–12pm PST, and recorded for students who cannot attend them synchronously. No class meetings will be held on Mondays.

This course will examine Chicago, Illinois, in its first century. When the Town of Chicago was founded in 1833, it had only 200 residents. Sixty years later, when it hosted more than 27 million visitors to the World’s Columbian Exposition, the City of Chicago had 1.1 million residents, making it the second-largest city in the country. What was it like to live in such a rapidly expanding and ever-changing place—and what did Chicago symbolize to Americans living elsewhere in the United States, a country undergoing its own enormous transformation? In this class we will examine the ordinary and extraordinary Chicago: from daily life, labor, and leisure, to the enormous and unprecedented world’s fair in 1893. By combining history, literature, visual culture, and popular media, our interdisciplinary study of early Chicago will consider what this place can teach us about urban life, architecture, race, gender, work, culture, science, and national identity in the nineteenth-century United States.

American Studies 102 Wall Street/Main Street

  • day and time TTh 9:30-11
  • location Remote - Synchronous
  • instructor M. Brilliant/S. Solomon
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 32609

Tu 1-2
Tu 3-4
W 10-11
W 12-1
History 133B and Legal Studies 141

As longstanding symbols in American history and culture, “Wall Street” and “Main Street” typically refer to streets that intersect at right angles and places that represent the antithesis of each other. In this rendering, Wall Street is home to nefarious big banks run by greedy financiers with deep pockets, while Main Street is home to unassuming “mom-and-pop” shops patronized by ordinary people of modest means who live in the surrounding wholesome small towns. What’s good for one is not good for the other. This course, which will be co-taught by a historian and corporate law professor, will examine critical junctures in the intersection of Wall Street and Main Street in American history and culture over the course of the twentieth century, how and why Wall Street and Main Street have been understood to point in opposite directions, the extent to which that understanding makes sense, and how and why the relationship between Wall Street and Main Street has evolved over time.

Assessment will be based on 1-2 papers, an open-book midterm and final, and section attendance and participation, which may include weekly reading response assignments to be posted in bCourses. The final exam will be a written exam held during the class’s scheduled exam time: Wednesday, May 12, 11:30am–2:30pm.

Two of the required texts—The Day Wall Street Exploded by Beverly Gage, and Capital Moves: RCA’s Seventy-Year Quest for Cheap Labor by Jefferson Cowie—will be available electronically through the Libraray at no cost.

Class Notes:
Lectures will be a mix of aysynchronous and synchronous; sections will be synchronous.

American Studies H 110 What Is This?!

  • day and time F 9-12
  • location Remote - Synchronous
  • instructor A. Shanken
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 26101

NOTE: Instructor consent required to enroll

The word “thing” comes from proto-Germanic words like thingam that surprisingly are about assembly, council, and discussion. Things, those inert objects we place on shelves, throw in drawers, and jettison on trash heaps, have their roots in action, communication, and space. There is no “thing” without its corresponding behavior and there is no behavior without its corresponding place. This class looks at the relationship between things, actions, communication, and place, and it does so particularly within the modern American context of production, consumption, and obsolescence. It is primarily a class in writing creative non-fiction (and reading it). Students will be asked to write short weekly essays about stuff (bricks, paper clips, bras, marbles, collectibles, junk), the places we keep them (mantles, boxes, boutiques, attics), and what they say to us and about us. The class is intended as a supportive workshop environment for students to observe closely and write incisively about the things around them.

Pre-1900 Historical Requirement

American Studies 102 The Great American City: Chicago in the Nineteenth Century

  • day and time MW 10-12
  • location Remote - Asynchronous
  • instructor S. Gold McBride
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 21399

THIS COURSE SIMULTANEOUSLY SATISFIES BOTH THE PLACE AND PRE-1900 MAJOR REQUIREMENTS

NOTE: All lecture content will be asynchronous. Class meetings (which will focus on discussion and work with sources) will be held live on Wednesdays 10am–12pm PST, and recorded for students who cannot attend them synchronously. No class meetings will be held on Mondays.

This course will examine Chicago, Illinois, in its first century. When the Town of Chicago was founded in 1833, it had only 200 residents. Sixty years later, when it hosted more than 27 million visitors to the World’s Columbian Exposition, the City of Chicago had 1.1 million residents, making it the second-largest city in the country. What was it like to live in such a rapidly expanding and ever-changing place—and what did Chicago symbolize to Americans living elsewhere in the United States, a country undergoing its own enormous transformation? In this class we will examine the ordinary and extraordinary Chicago: from daily life, labor, and leisure, to the enormous and unprecedented world’s fair in 1893. By combining history, literature, visual culture, and popular media, our interdisciplinary study of early Chicago will consider what this place can teach us about urban life, architecture, race, gender, work, culture, science, and national identity in the nineteenth-century United States.

History 125 A African American History and Race Relations: 1450-1860

  • day and time MW 5-6:30
  • location Remote - Synchronous
  • instructor S. Jones-Rogers
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 30853
The course will survey African American history from the African background to the outbreak of the Civil War. The origins and development of Afro-American society, culture and politics will be explored from the perspective of African-Americans themselves: slave and free, North and South. Throughout, the enduring dilemma of race relations functions as a central theme.

Senior Thesis Seminars

American Studies 191 Senior Thesis Seminar

  • day and time W 2-4
  • location Remote - Synchronous
  • instructor S. Gold McBride
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 15685

Seminar meetings will be held live, and recorded for students who cannot attend them synchronously.

American Studies 191 Senior Thesis Seminar

  • day and time W 2-4
  • location Remote - Synchronous
  • instructor M. Briiliant
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 15686

American Studies H 195 Honors Thesis Seminar

  • day and time Th 2-4pm
  • location Remote - Synchronous
  • instructor C. Palmer
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 19673

Honors Seminar

American Studies H 110 What Is This?!

  • day and time F 9-12
  • location Remote - Synchronous
  • instructor A. Shanken
  • 4 Units
  • Class # 26101

NOTE: Instructor consent required to enroll

The word “thing” comes from proto-Germanic words like thingam that surprisingly are about assembly, council, and discussion. Things, those inert objects we place on shelves, throw in drawers, and jettison on trash heaps, have their roots in action, communication, and space. There is no “thing” without its corresponding behavior and there is no behavior without its corresponding place. This class looks at the relationship between things, actions, communication, and place, and it does so particularly within the modern American context of production, consumption, and obsolescence. It is primarily a class in writing creative non-fiction (and reading it). Students will be asked to write short weekly essays about stuff (bricks, paper clips, bras, marbles, collectibles, junk), the places we keep them (mantles, boxes, boutiques, attics), and what they say to us and about us. The class is intended as a supportive workshop environment for students to observe closely and write incisively about the things around them.

Special Courses of Interest

American Studies C 172 History of American Business

  • day and time TTh 12:30-2
  • location Remote - Synchronous
  • instructor C. Rosen
  • 4 Units

Cross-listed with UGBA C172

NOTE: Lectures will be both live and recorded for students who cannot attend them synchronously.

This course covers an amazing history of creative innovation, growth, structural change, challenge, trouble, travail and more growth, more change, challenge, and trouble. Less than two hundred years ago, the U.S. was just starting to transform itself from a country of farmers and village craftsmen into a nation based on large scale, mechanized, corporate controlled industry. It is now an industrial colossus dominated by huge multinational corporations that operate in markets around the world. Its leaders are experiencing many forms of disruptive innovation. They must manage, find economic opportunities, and politically maneuver in a marketplace that is being constantly shaped and reshaped by international competition, technological and financial innovation, and the ever insistent demands from the investor community for maximal profits every quarter. They must also deal with new forms of financial, economic, social, and environmental regulation, here and abroad, as well as the ongoing rise of new generations of dynamic competitors in China, India, and other parts of the developing world. How has American business gotten to where it is today? How can historical insight help us understand the strategic, organizational, geo-political, economic, social, and environmental problems, opportunities and challenges facing todays corporate managers? The purpose of UGBA AS C 172 is to give you historical perspective on these issues. The course illuminates the parallels and continuities as well as the differences between current and past developments in management problem solving, technological and organizational innovation, and business-government interaction, as well as businesss impact on American culture and its relationship with society as a whole.