Course Goals

-      Learn how to think like an American Studies scholar

-      Create a classroom community that fosters intellectual growth based on respect and civility

-      Develop critical speaking, viewing, reading, thinking, note-taking, and library research skills that are applicable to life both within and outside of the university

-      Question "common sense" or "dominant" understandings of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, religion, class, and popular culture


Essential Questions

-      What does it mean "to think like an American Studies scholar"?

-      What evidence indicates that identities are socially constructed?

-      How do identities constitute lived realities and shared communities?

-      How do prejudice and institutional discrimination shape certain individuals and groups life chances and impact their access to resources, rights, and privileges?

-      To whom do the rights and freedoms outlined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States belong? 

-      Do Americans have a responsibility to "exercise" their rights and freedoms? Should they push for greater liberties? 

-      How have Americans, through social movements, affected political change – what were their goals, strategies, successes, and failures? 

-      Is American history a history of social progress? Is social progress inevitable?

-      How does popular culture shape and reflect American cultural ideals and values?

-      How do popular representations of a group affect how members of that group see themselves and how others see them?

-      How are popular representations of a group related to the group's access to political representation – to quote Richard Dyer, "to their right to the rights [America] claims to ensure its citizens"?