Students will practice reading closely historical, literary texts as well as films and seeches.
Students will gain knowledge of certain key historical, social, political events that influenced American literary and cultural history.
Course Content (Syllabus)
In this course students will investigate two central American Studies questions: “Where is America”? and “Who Are Americans?” by diving deeply into the history and culture of “THE WEST” as both a region and an idea, with an emphasis on the diversity of people whose lives have shaped and been shaped by the region and its representations. We will focus our attention on the trans-Mississippi West since the mid-19th century and ask questions such as: Where is the West? Is there more than one “West”? What role has the west played in creating an American identity and defining who is “American”? We will be equally interested in the historical “facts” of the region and the ways in which Americans have created and shaped the idea of the West to meet political, social or cultural needs. In fact, our project for the semester will be to understand the relationship between the historical and the culturally “Wests”—and how each has created and shaped the other—in order to understand more about both an American region and what it is to be “American”. Because the Trans-Mississippi west has always been a site of rich cultural mixing and tension, these issues will constantly weave in and out of course materials. We will begin by examining the ideas of “old” western scholars vs. “new” western scholars and then take a roughly chronological approach. Course materials are drawn from both fiction and non-fiction works by writers, photographers, poets, historians, literary critics and geographers and will include films, fiction, poetry, music, and maps. We may also explore the ideas of “the west” in a transnational context and/or how “the American West” is portrayed in Greece specifically or Europe more general.
History, USA, the West, identity politics, region, literature