BTAN33001BA, BTANL33001 & BTAN1070MA:
INTRODUCTION TO AMERICAN STUDIES
BA 3rd year American Track and Teacher Training MA
Time: Tuesday 12-14; Place: Lecture Hall II
Tutor: Éva Mathey
Office hours: Monday 10-11 & Tuesday 14-15, and by appointment (116/1; ext. 22152; )
Description of Course
These lectures offer a general overview of the most significant aspects, general and specific, of American culture and provide a conceptual as well as theoretical framework for further study and research. Topics for discussion include: the concept and major areas of American Studies as a field of inquiry, questions of inter-and multi-disciplinarity and methodology; institutional history: major “paradigm moments” shaped by the double forces of social change and change in theory; major themes in American cultural history; cultural stability; American beliefs and values, myths and ideologies; the multicultural challenge in America past and present; regionalism; American religions; women in US history; legal and illegal immigration, and so on. These lectures also introduce alternative approaches to the “single culture” approach by expanding the scope of inquiry to include issues of ethnicity, race, gender, class, region, religion and ideology. Video materials will be used extensively to illustrate certain key ideas and points.
Please note that this course is also taught in the English Teaching MA and in the part-time BA programs under different course codes.
Half-way through the semester students must sit for a short midterm exam (Week 9: November 10) on the readings and lecture materials covered up to that point. It is a course requirement, so there is NO chance to miss it. The midterm will provide 25% of your final grade!
The course ends with a comprehensive end-of-the-term exam in the winter examination period. Exam dates will be agreed upon in the second half of the course. Please note that the video materials, lecture notes, and Power Points used in class will also be part of the exam. Should you miss any class it is your responsibility to get hold of, and watch, the related videos. Please note that this course lays the foundation for subsequent American Studies courses (especially in the Masters program) and will be treated accordingly. It is strongly recommended that you read the assigned texts for the individual lectures week by week!!!!!!!!
Rules of the Game
The course ends in a written exam offered on three separate occasions in the exam period. It opens with a text recognition test and if you fail it, you fail the whole exam. Please DO NOT USE any Wikipedia materials when you prepare for the exam. Please note that the course has been revised (cf. 2012) with new topics and readings introduced.
Tardiness and Early Departures are not allowable. They are offensive to your fellow students and to the instructor because they disrupt class work. If you have a compelling reason for arriving late or leaving early, speak with your instructor about the problem.
Classroom Etiquette: During the class please DO refrain from using your electronic devices including tabs, mobile phones, etc. If you use a laptop, please do it only for classroom purposes (i.e. taking notes)! Please DO NOT receive phone calls and text messages during the class!!! It is disturbing and impolite in the first degree!!!!
Topics for Discussion
Week 1 (SEP 15): Orientation and introduction
Week 2 (SEP 22): American Studies: prevailing models and directions: the paradigm shifts; methodology; inter-disciplinarity and multi-disciplinarity in AS; history of AS
Week 3 (SEP 29): American Studies in Hungary: pre-AS studies of the US, AS programs in Hungary; the legacy of Professor László Országh. AS in Hungary, Hungarian Studies in the USA.
Week 4 (OCT 06): Key American values, icons, myths, and ideologies: values, social norms, institutions; belief systems: myths and ideologies of American uniqueness, destiny and identity; ethnocentrism. The myth structure in American culture: major social myths; key American icons.
Week 5 (OCT 13): Negotiating Democracy: democracy as a negotiated process, the American tradition of social and political protest; Lakoff and framing; case study: the Vietnam War
Week 6 (OCT 20): Sources of Conflict: race, ethnicity, class, gender: Unity vs. diversity; or, centripetal and/vs. centrifugal forces in American culture; the ethnic, racial and class composition of American society: from the melting pot through cultural pluralism to the boiling pot; concepts and varieties of a “core” America; Affirmative Action, Political Correctness.
Week 7 (OCT 26-30): CONSULTATION WEEK, no classes
Week 8 (NOV 03): Women in American Society and the Sex Debates: the historical role of women in American society; sexual revolutions; LGBTQ in the US and Hungary; the sexual counterrevolution.
Week 9 (NOV 10): MIDTERM EXAM and Religion and Civil Religion in the US: the religious nature of American culture, the role of religion in American history: the three Great Awakenings and the matter of church and state; Material Christianity and the American Jesus
Week 10 (NOV 17): American folklore: what is AMERICAN about American folklore; oral, customary, and material folklore in the US: made in the USA or imported?
Week 11 (NOV 24): Legal and Illegal Immigration: migration and immigration, conceptual and legal framework of immigration, terminological traffic jams, illegal immigration and the draw factor of the American Dream.
Week 12 (DEC 01): The American West: as a cultural region, a storehouse of icons, myths of the American West; folklore and musical traditions, the West in art, especially painting, photography, and sculpture.
Week 13 (DEC 08): The American South: The Southern Culture of Honor and the Myth of the South & the Civil War in American Memory: the myth of the South and its Culture of Honor, music for the South, as well as the Northern and Southern takes on the Civil War as well as the way it continues to haunt Americans.
Week 14 (DEC 15): Closing
NB: the schedule of classes may be subject to change due to guest lectures
Week 2: Cultural Theory website on AS: AND Jane C. Desmond and Virginia R. Dominguez, “Resituating American Studies in a Critical Internationalism,” American Quarterly 48/3 (1996), 475-90. AND Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Disuniting of America. Reflections on a Multicultural Society (New York and London: W.W. Norton, 1992), 9-20, 119-138.
Week 3: Abádi-Nagy, Zoltán. “Anglisztika-amerikanisztika a mai Magyarországon,” in Tibor Frank and Krisztina Károly, eds. Anglisztika és Amerikanisztika. Magyar kutatások az ezredfordulón (Budapest: Tinta Könyvkiadó, 2009), 13-31. Virágos, Zsolt, ed., Országh László válogatott írásai (Debrecen: Kossuth Egyetemi Kiadó, 2007), 15-46. AND Glant, “Travel Writing as a Substitute for American Studies in Hungary” HJEAS 16/1-2 (2010), 171-184; and Amerika, a csodák és csalódások földje (Debrecen: Debreceni Egyetemi kiadó, 2013), 141-171.
Week 4: US myths handout (word document in course packet)
Week 5: Protest tradition, Winter Soldier; Irwin and Debi Unger, eds., The Times Were A’ Changin’. The Sixties Reader (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1998), chapter 10 AND Lakoff, Don’t Think of an Elephant! (White River Junction, VT: Chelsea/Green Publishing Co., 2004), Chapter 1.
Week 6: Paul Fussell, Class. A Guide Through the American Status System (New York: Touchstone, 1992): Chapter 2: “An Anatomy of the Classes,” 24-50. AND Michael H. Hunt, Ideology and U.S. Foreign Policy (New Haven: Yale UP, 1987), Chapter 3.
Week 8: Unger, Times Were A’ Changin’, chapter 7. AND Glant, “Against All Odds: Vira B. Whitehouse and Rosika Schwimmer in Switzerland, 1918,” in American Studies International XL/1 (2002), 34-51. Recommended website: http://digital.mtsu.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/women
Week 9: Robert J. Bellah, “Civil Religion in America” YR2 AmCiv readings, Text: J1 AND Stephen Prothero, American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003), 3-16, 291-303.
Week 10: Jan Harold Brunvand, The Study of American Folklore. 4th ed. (New York and London: W.W. Norton, 1998), 3-47, 114-121, 136-154, 345-367, 390-394, 405-435.
Week 11: Justin Akers Chacon and Mike Davis, No One Is Illegal: Fighting Racism and State Violence on the U.S.-Mexican Border (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2006), 191-225, 287-93.
Week 12: Catherine Gouge, “The American Frontier: History, Rhetoric, Concept,” Americana 6/1 (2007) at: AND Steiner, Michael. “From Frontier to Region: Frederick Jackson Turner and the New Western History,” Pacific Historical Review 64/4 (1995), 479-501.
Week 13: Will Kaufman, The Civil War in American Culture (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2006), chapters 3, 4, and 7.