HUM 2450.001/.002
American Humanities

Summer A 2004 / section A01 M-F 10:50-12:05 a.m./section A02 M-F 12:15-1:30 p.m./P-162
Dr. Nick Melczarek Department phone: 395-5075
Office: L-216 e-mail
(send no attachments!)
Office hours: M&W 8:00-10:00 a.m. & by appt. Office phone: 395-4452

"I want to immerse myself in American magic and dread."
-- White Noise (Don DeLillo, 1984)

"It's very difficult to get lost in America these days."
-- The Blair Witch Project (Eduardo Sanchez & Daniel Myrick, 1999)

section A01 = TBA
section A02 = TBA

(click to jump to the following sections)
Course Decsription and Rationale Chronology and Themes
Course Objectives Required Texts and Materials
Assignments & Grade Distribution Exams
Final Exam U.S. Identity and Culture Journals
Related HUM 2450 pages
Course Policies Page Cultural Events & Sample Journal page
Exam 1 Study Guide Exam 2 Study Guide
Course Lecture Notes

Updated Schedules (highlighted as available); these sites overrule the paper syllabus schedule:
This syllabus remains deliberately brief to allow flexibility to the unpredictable needs of students. Once updates are posted online, you are responsible for tracking due dates. To ensure that you do not miss class notes, familiarize yourself with at least two other students -- trade 'phone numbers or e-dresses so that you have two people to contact. I should be the last person you contact for any such information. Always consult the online syllabus and schedule updates before asking me any questions about assignments or the class.
»»Course Decsription and Rationale
To ask "What is an American" is deceptive: it implies a single possible answer to something experienced by millions. Further, "is" implies that the experience happens just once, right then, and is the same over time. Definitions and the voices that speak them and hands that write them, however, change over time. This course will thus ask not so much "what is an American," but rather "what has gone into that definition over time; from what perspectives and whose experiences; how has that definition been thought through art, architecture, and cultural documents; and how do we see 'American' identity formation and projection going on in culture today?"

This course follows a chronology, more or less, from early European colonization of the Americas to the end of the Twentieth Century. In so doing, we will trace the ongoing development and mutation of "American" identities. To survey the broad span of cultural and artistic influences that makes up such identities, I have deliberately and artificially segmented this course's chronology into timed themes. I have striven not to relegate cultures and races to their own little theme-ghettoes. Rather, by maintaining a loose chronological flow through these themed segments, I will attempt to show how groups and ideas influenced each other across American time and space. As we will see through sections from Frances Pohl's Framing America, online primary sources, in-class videos and discussion, "America" was diversely influenced and inflected from its origins: native tribes, invading Europeans, enslaved Africans, immigrants from the Asias and the Latin Americas, later emigrants from Europe. Women, men, and children of numerous colors, ethnicities, religions, sexualities, classes, languages, politics, literatures, and arts created the composite and continually-evolving nation we live in. We cannot visit them all in detail, but we will survey ("look out over") the highlights -- and they are numerous.
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You must have an e-mail account and web access to participate in this course. If you don't have both of these yet, obtain them immediately.

»»Chronology and Themes
I: "Discovery" & Colonization (c.1492-1616) | II: God, Devils, and Work (c.1627-1742)
III: Early Slavery (c.1773-1793) | IV: Building the "Enlightened" Republic (c. 1776-1791)
V: Defining "Americaness" (c. 1782-1831) | VI: Women Emerging (c.1845-1890)
VII: Abolition & Emancipation (c. 1845-1896) | VIII: Westward: Immigrants & Natives (c. 1839-1900)
IX: Work In Progress (c. 1900-1945)| X: Singing America In Different Voices (c. 1945-present)
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»»Course Objectives
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»»Required Texts and Materials
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»»Assignments & Grade Distribution (elements described below)
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»»Exams You will have two multiple-choice exams to evince your absorption of the general course material (movements, works, concepts, etc). I will amass study guides online for each exam as we progress through the semester, and e-mail you the URLs - check this site weekly. On posted exam days, show up on time; I will not re-show test images to late arrivals. I will allow a make-up exam ONLY in cases of extreme emergency with documentation. You must contact me about such instances; make-up exams must be taken within 48 hours.
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»»Final Exam You will have one final essay-question exam during final exam week, to present the breadth of your understanding of course concepts, artworks, and primary documents. The date for your class' final exam will be posted on the course website by mid-term. You must take the final exam on that date. No make-ups permitted, except in cases of extreme emergency with documentation; make-up exams must be taken during finals week.
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»»U.S. Identity and Culture Journals at four designated times during the semester, you will turn in a journal that discusses issues of U.S. identity and culture. For the sake of summer convenience, I have assigned the topic for each journal, which you will find listed on the Cultural Journal site. One of these journals must address an artistic or cultural event, listed on the that same site. This same site has an example journal entry. Journals must be typed/printed hard copies -- no e-mails, disks, CDs, or hand-written journals. Journals must be handed in at the beginning of class on the due day; journals will be penalized one letter grade for each day late, weekends included.
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