SPR20AMST310/HUM485

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HUM 485-01/ AMST 310-01: The Arts and American Culture

SPRING 2020 M/W 9.30-10.45 in HUM 203

Sean Connelly, Ph.D.

Contact: apciv@sfsu.edu

Office location/ hours: in Hum 416 on M 12.30-1.30 and by appt.

Prerequisite: Upper division standing. First and second year students need instructor permission to enroll

The Project

HUM485/AMST310 explores the ways cultural forms such as literature, popular music, and film contend with the powerful forces of capitalist modernity in the United States during the historical period of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (roughly, the half century from Reconstruction through the so-called first Red Scare or the opening years of the Machine Age).

We will use concepts drawn from political economy and textual analysis to interpret literary and cinematic narratives. Why has the mainstream of US American culture remained so reluctant to confront the facts of class  struggle, white supremacy and imperialism? What accounts for the paradox  of its devotion to “the free market” and mistrust of speculation? How do writers, painters, musicians, and film-makers give form to the anarchy of capitalism? How do their works attempt to confirm, revise, escape, or deny the ideologies  justifying it? What do our provisional answers to these questions tell us about national identity— what it means to be American?

Our focus will encompass genres such as satire, naturalism, and modernism across storyworlds including working-class San Francisco and a kaleidoscopic Manhattan . We will consider how fictive events and settings dramatize the precarious world produced by “market forces” and examine the characters who inhabit it. Though their motives and methods may differ, the proletarians, social climbers, grifters, and entrepreneurs populating this social terrain are all confronted by a common, determinate situation.

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Learning Outcomes

Students who do the work will complete the course with a solid foundation in the formal analysis of literature and film, a general knowledge of GAPE history, and a toolkit of theoretical concepts with which to explore the relationship between culture and ideology.

Basic Etiquette

ARRIVE ON TIME,  work completed, with a hard copy of the assigned text. All homework assignments should be typed and include name/date/course.

Electronic Devices

On its own, a cell phone is not an adequate tool. The course blog, for example, is best viewed on a computer. Unless I specifically request it, NO ELECTRONIC DEVICES SHOULD BE USED DURING CLASS.

Intellectual Honesty

CHEATING DESTROYS TRUST between teacher and student. Any ideas or words that are not your own should be cited. Yet academic fraud encompasses more than plagiarism. Reading a wikipedia entry rather than an assigned novel or allowing others to do your work for you are also examples of cheating.

See http://www.sfsu.edu/~vpsa/judicial/titlev.html

Accessibility

If there’s anything I should know about you as a student, please talk to me RIGHT AWAY and I’ll do my best to help. The DPRC is located in the Student Service Building and can be reached by telephone (voice/TTY 415-338-2472) or by email dprc@sfsu.edu).

Other Resources

The SAFE Place – (415) 338-2208; http://www.sfsu.edu/~safe_plc/

Counseling and Psychological Services Center – (415) 338-2208; http://psyservs.sfsu.edu/

Additional information on rights and available resources: http://titleix.sfsu.edu

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The Work: Grading Rubric

Guidelines for major assignments are at the course blog.

Effort and Engagement (Attendance, punctuality, cell phone discipline, verbal participation, in-class work) 30%

2 Keyword Tests 10% each for a total of  20% 

Film Analysis Presentation (group presentation and written formal analysis) 25%

Final Exam 25%

In-class kw tests are graded on a scale of 0-4. 

0 = Assignment not completed

1 = Little to no comprehension of the text or its themes, resulting in an inability to connect ideas.

2 = Made a real effort and some of the responses are adequate. Overall, however, not good enough.

3 = Competent/ promising.

4 = Superlative.

Important Dates

9/2: Labor Day. No class.

2/14: Last day of Drop/Add

*2/19: KW1

*2/26: KW1 Revision

*3/11: KW2

3/24:CR/NC Deadline

3/31: Cesar Chavez Day

4/27: Withdrawal Deadline

4/29, 5/4, 5/6: Film Presentations

*5/15: FINAL EXAM

Required Texts

BUY HARD COPIES OF THE RIGHT EDITIONS! Read with a pencil. Flag significant passages. Always look for patterns. Talk about what you read.

Doctorow, Ragtime (1975) 978-0812978186

Dos Passos, Manhattan Transfer (1925) 978-0618381869

Norris, McTeague (1899) 978-0199554898

Wharton, The House of Mirth (1905) 978-0199538102

eReader

ALL of these readings should be brought in HARD COPY format to class on the date they are due.

Den Tandt, “American Literary Naturalism”: DenTandtALN

Caserio, “Modernism”: CaserioModernism

Eagleton, “What is a Novel?”: EagletonNovel

Loewen, “Nadir of the Negro”: Nadir

Marx and Engels, Communist Manifesto: ManifestoSec1

Marx, “On the Fetishism of Commodities”: fetishism

Villarejo, Film Analysis (excerpts): VillarejoCH2 VillarejoGlossary

Williams, “Hegemony”: RWmsHegemony

Williams, “Dominant, Residual, Emergent”: WmsDRE

Filmography

Ragtime, House of Mirth, Manhatta, Greed, Birth of a Nation, Within Our Gates, The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow (ep. 2), etc.

 

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Schedule

(note: this schedule of readings and screenings is subject to revision )

WEEK ONE

1/27

Introduction

First Assignment: Take the Political Compass test. Print a hard copy of your results and bring them to class. Read Williams, “Hegemony”

1/29

Due: Political Compass test results. Complete part two of the Political Compass Assignment (group work). Discuss “Hegemony”

Assignment: Norris, McTeague; Den Tandt, “American Literary Naturalism”

UNIT ONE: DETERMINISM and HEGEMONY

Readings: Williams, Hegemony; Den Tandt, “American Literary Naturalism”; Norris, McTeague

WEEK TWO

2/3

Due: McTeague; Den Tandt, “American Literary Naturalism”

2/5

Due: McTeague

WEEK THREE

2/10

Due: McTeague COMPLETE

2/12

Due: McTeague

WEEK FOUR

2/17

LAST DAY OF DROP/ADD

Due: McTeague

2/19

KW1

WEEK FIVE

2/24

Due: McTeague

In class: Discuss KW1 results,  McTeague

Assignment: The House of Mirth

 

UNIT TWO: THE FOUR HUNDRED

Readings: Marx, “The Fetishism of Commodities”and “The Power of Money”; Wharton, The House of Mirth

2/26

Due: KW1 Revision; The House of Mirth

Screen: Great Depression

WEEK SIX

3/2

Due: The House of Mirth

3/4

Due: The House of Mirth

WEEK SEVEN

3/9

Due: The House of Mirth COMPLETE

Clip:

3/11

Due: KW2; The House of Mirth

WEEK EIGHT

3/16

In class: Discuss KW2 results; The House of Mirth

Assignment: “The Fetishism of Commodities” and “The Power of Money”; The House of Mirth

3/18

Due: Modernism reading; The House of Mirth

Screen:

WEEK NINE

SPRING BREAK

UNIT THREE: MODERNISM

Readings: Modernism reading; Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto; Dos Passos, Manhattan Transfer

WEEK TEN

3/30

Due: The Communist Manifesto; Manhattan Transfer

Screen: Manhatta

4/1

Due: Manhattan Transfer

WEEK ELEVEN

4/6

Due: Manhattan Transfer

4/8

Due: Manhattan Transfer

WEEK TWELVE

4/13

Due: Manhattan Transfer

4/15

Due: Manhattan Transfer

UNIT FOUR: PRESENT FUTURE

Readings; Williams, “Dominant, Residual, Emergent”; Jameson, “Postmodernism and Consumer Society”; Doctorow, Ragtime

WEEK THIRTEEN

4/20

Due: “Dominant, Residual, Emergent”;  Ragtime

4/22

Due: Ragtime

WEEK FOURTEEN

4/27

Due: “Postmodernism and Consumer Society”; Ragtime

4/29

Due: Ragtime

Film Presentations

WEEK FIFTEEN

5/4

Due: Ragtime

Film Presentations

5/6

Due: Ragtime

Film Presentations

WEEK SIXTEEN

5/11

Due: Ragtime

Film Presentations

5/12

FINAL EXAM

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