SPR20HUM225-01

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HUM 225-01: Values in American Life

SPRING 2020 M/W 12.30-1.45 in Hum 582

Sean Connelly, Ph.D. 

Contact: apciv@sfsu.edu 

Office location/ hours: in Hum 416 on M 11.15-12.15 t 12.30-1.30 and by appt.

The Project

HUM225-01 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, religious 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

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%

Cumulative 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.

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Important Dates

2/14: Last day of Drop/Add

*2/19: KW1

*3/16: KW2

3/24:CR/NC Deadline

3/31: Cesar Chavez Day

4/27: Withdrawal Deadline

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

*5/13: FINAL EXAM

Required Texts

BUY HARD COPIES of the right books! Read with a pencil. Flag significant passages. Look for patterns. Talk about what you read.

Le Sueur, The Girl 9780975348659

Ma, Severance 9781250214997

Norris, McTeague 9780199554898

Thompson, The Grifters 9780316404051

E-reader

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

Villarejo, Film Analysis (excerpts): VillarejoCH2 VillarejoGlossary

Williams, “Hegemony”: RWmsHegemony

Williams, “Dominant, Residual, Emergent”: WmsDRE

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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. PRINT AND READ Mitchell, “Value”

1/29

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

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

2/5

Due: McTeague

WEEK THREE

2/10

Due: McTeague, Williams, “Hegemony”

2/12

Due: McTeague COMPLETE

2/14

LAST DAY OF DROP/ADD

WEEK FOUR

2/17

Due: McTeague

2/19

Due: McTeague

WEEK FIVE

2/24

KW1

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

2/26

Due: The Girl

Screen: Great Depression

WEEK SIX

3/2

Due: The Girl ; “On the Fetishism of Commodities”

3/4

Due: The Girl

WEEK SEVEN

3/9

Due: The Girl; “The Power of Money”

3/11

Due: The Girl COMPLETE

Online: Ilearn forum

WEEK EIGHT

3/16

Assignment: The Girl

3/18 

WEEK NINE

SPRING BREAK

UNIT THREE: PULP MODERNISM

Readings: Marling, “On the Relation Between American Roman Noir and Film Noir”; Thompson, The Grifters

WEEK TEN

3/30

NO CLASS

4/1

FRIDAY 4/3 by NOON: Online: Check-in assignment

WEEK ELEVEN

4/6

Due by 11.30 pm: KW2

4/8

Due: Marling, “On the Relation Between American Roman Noir and Film Noir”; The Grifters

WEEK TWELVE

4/13

Due: The Grifters

4/15

Due: The Grifters

WEEK THIRTEEN

4/20

Due: The Grifters

4/22

Online: Grifters assignment

UNIT FOUR: PRESENT FUTURE

Readings; Hall, et al “After Neoliberalism”; Ling, Severance

WEEK FOURTEEN

4/27

Due: Severance; Hall, et al “After Neoliberalism”

4/29

FRIDAY 5/4 by NOON: Online: Check-in assignment

WEEK FIFTEEN

5/4

Due: Severance

5/6

Online: Severance assignment

WEEK SIXTEEN

5/11

Due: Severance

5/13

Final Exam on ilearn

5/20

Due: Essay by 12.15 pm