SPR20HUM225-03

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HUM 225-03: Values in American Life

SPRING 2020 M/W 11-12.15 in Hum 582

Sean Connelly, Ph.D. 

Contact: apciv@sfsu.edu 

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

The Project

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.

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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 20th century US 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 assignments should be typed and include name/date/course. Only documented absences for medical or legal reasons are excused.

Electronic devices

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. 

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). dprc@sfsu.edu).

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

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 books! Read with a pencil. Flag significant passages. Always look for patterns. Talk about what you read.

Le Sueur, The Girl

Ma, Severance 9781250214997

Norris, McTeague

Thompson, The Grifters

E-reader

Marx and Engles, The Communist Manifesto

Van Tandt, “American Literary Naturalism”

Williams, “Hegemony”

 

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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.

1/29

Due: Political Compass test results. Complete part two of the Political Compass Assignment (group work, individual statement)

Assignment: McTeague; Naturalism reading; Hegemony reading

UNIT ONE: DETERMINISM and HEGEMONY

Readings: Williams, Hegemony; Naturalism reading; Norris, McTeague

WEEK TWO

2/3

Due: McTeague; Naturalism reading; Hegemony reading

2/5

Due: McTeague

WEEK THREE

2/10

Due: McTeague

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 Girl

 

UNIT TWO: THE PROLETARIAT

Readings: Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto; Le Sueur, The Girl; Proletfiction reading

2/26

Due: KW1 Revision; The Girl

Screen: Great Depression

WEEK SIX

3/2

Due: The Girl

3/4

Due: The Girl

WEEK SEVEN

3/9

Due: The Girl

Clip:

3/11

Due: KW2; The Girl

WEEK EIGHT

3/16

In class: Discuss KW2 results; The Girl

Assignment: The Girl

3/18

Due: The Girl; Noir reading

Screen: NOIR clips

WEEK NINE

SPRING BREAK

UNIT THREE: PULP MODERNISM

Readings: Noir reading; postwar US reading; Thompson, The Grifters

WEEK TEN

3/30

Due: The Grifters

4/1

Due: The Grifters

WEEK ELEVEN

4/6

Due: The Grifters

4/8

Due: The Grifters

Song: Various

WEEK TWELVE

4/13

Due: The Grifters

4/15

Due: The Grifters

UNIT FOUR: PRESENT FUTURE

Readings; Global capitalism reading; Ling, Severance

WEEK THIRTEEN

4/20

Due: Severance

4/22

Due: Severance

WEEK FOURTEEN

4/27

Due: Severance

4/29

Due: Severance

Film Presentations

WEEK FIFTEEN

5/4

Due: Severance

Film Presentations

5/6

Due: Severance

Film Presentations

WEEK SIXTEEN

5/11

Due: Severance

Film Presentations

5/12

FINAL EXAM