HUM 225-02: Values in American Life
SPRING 2020 T/Th 11-12.15 in Hum 582
Sean Connelly, Ph.D.
Office location/ hours: in Hum 416 on M 11.15-12.15 T 12.30-1.30 and by appt.
HUM225-02 explores the ways cultural forms such as literature, popular music, and film contend with the powerful forces of capitalist modernity in the United States from the Gilded Age to the end of the world.
Why has the mainstream of US American culture remained so reluctant to confront the facts of class struggle? 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 crime fiction, naturalism, and modernism across disparate storyworlds including Gilded Age San Francisco, post-Apocalyptic New York, and the noir landscape of postwar Los Angeles. We will consider how fictive events and settings dramatize the precarious social formation produced by “market forces” and examine the characters who inhabit it. Though their motives and methods may differ, the proletarians, grifters, and clerks navigating this terrain are confronted by a common, determinate situation.
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 20th century US history, and a toolkit of theoretical concepts with which to explore the relationship between culture and ideology.
ARRIVE ON TIME, work completed, with a hard copy of the assigned text. All assignments should be typed and include name/date/course. Only documented absences for medical or legal reasons are excused.
On its own, a cell phone is not an adequate educational 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.
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.
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 email@example.com). firstname.lastname@example.org).
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
The Work: Grading Rubric
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.
2/14: Last day of Drop/Add
3/31: Cesar Chavez Day
4/27: Withdrawal Deadline
4/30, 5/5, 5/7, 5/12: Film Presentations
*5/14: FINAL EXAM
BUY HARD COPIES of the right books! Read with a pencil. Flag significant passages. Always look for patterns. Talk about what you read.
Le Sueur, The Girl 9780975348659
Levin, A Kiss Before Dying 9781605981833
Ma, Severance 9781250214997
Norris, McTeague 9780199554898
All of these readings (except *) should be printed and brought to class.
Den Tandt, “American Literary Naturalism”: DenTandtALN
Caserio, “Modernism”: CaserioModernism
*Eagleton, “What is a Novel?”: EagletonNovel
Hall, et al, “After Neoliberalism”: After Neoliberalism
*Loewen, “Nadir of the Negro”: Nadir
Marling, “On the Relation Between the American Roman Noir and Film Noir”: marling_filmnoir
*Marx and Engels, Communist Manifesto: ManifestoSec1
Marx, “On the Fetishism of Commodities”: fetishism
Mitchell, “Value”: nkwvalue
Williams, “Hegemony”: RWmsHegemony
Williams, “Dominant, Residual, Emergent”: WmsDRE
(note: this schedule of readings and screenings is subject to revision. )
First Assignment: Take the Political Compass test. Print a HARD COPY of your results and bring them to class. PRINT AND READ Mitchell, “Value”
Due: Political Compass test results. Complete part two of the Political Compass Assignment (group work, individual statement)
Assignment: McTeague; Den Tandt, “American Literary Naturalism”
UNIT ONE: DETERMINISM and HEGEMONY
Readings: Williams, Hegemony; Den Tandt, American Literary Naturalism”; Norris, McTeague
Due: Due: Norris, McTeague; Den Tandt, “American Literary Naturalism”
Due: McTeague COMPLETE
LAST DAY OF DROP/ADD
Assignment: The Girl
UNIT TWO: THE PROLETARIAT
Readings: Caserio, “Modernism”;Marx, “On the Fetishism of Commodities” and “The Power of Money”; Le Sueur, The Girl
Due: The Girl
Screen: Great Depression
Due: The Girl
Due: The Girl
Due: The Girl COMPLETE
Online: Ilearn forum
Due: Marx, “The Power of Money”; Marx, “On the Fetishism of Commodities”
Online: Ilearn forum
UNIT THREE: PULP MODERNISM
Readings: Marling, “On the Relation Between American Roman Noir and Film Noir”; Thompson, The Grifters
FRIDAY 4/3 by NOON: Online: Check-in assignment
Due by 11.30 pm: KW2
Due: Marling, “On the Relation Between American Roman Noir and Film Noir”; The Grifters
Due: A Kiss Before Dying (KBD)
Online: KBD assignment
UNIT FOUR: PRESENT FUTURE
Readings; Hall, et al “After Neoliberalism”; Ling, Severance
Due: Severance; Hall, et al “After Neoliberalism”
FRIDAY by NOON: Online: Check-in assignment
Online: Severance assignment
Final Exam on ilearn
Due: Essay by 12.15 pm