Course title: The History and Paradigms of American Studies 2 (Grgas, 2013-14)
Instructor: Stipe Grgas
ECTS credits: 6
Enrollment requirements: enrollment in the 8th and/or 10th semester
Course description: This course is a companion course to the course History and Paradigms of American Studies1 which investigated the origins of the discipline of American Studies. Its purpose is to explore the developments within the discipline up to the present day. To generalize, the main development since the founding of the discipline has been the questioning of the holistic approach to the object of study and the essentialist conceptualization of the United States. The latter practitioners of the field have reinscribed into the discipline the voices and experiences of those who were left out of the earlier paradigms and have likewise argued for the contextualization of the United States into the global context. The course will not only review these interventions but will also seek to show how they have been attended by an engagement with different theories, from poststructuralism, gender studies to Marxism.
The course is obligatory for American Studies majors.
Course requirements: regular attendance, participation in class discussions, written assignments and a final seminar paper. At the end of the course the students will be given a written exam.
The course will begin by describing how the so-called New Americanists challenged the prevailing methodology and reigning orthodoxies of the so-called „myth and symbol school“. It will be shown how the socio-political realities of the sixties impinged upon the agenda of the discipline and forced it to take cognizance of the heterogeneity of American society and address issues of race, ethnicity, gender, religious affiliation, regional specificity and to a lesser degree class. The second group of themes that the course will take up will deal with the transnational turn in American studies which targets the role the US has played on the global scene excavating the history of American imperialism, the contact zones and borders established throughout this history. The final cluster of issues that the course will take up will attempt to map the present state of the discipline and the way it has attempted to come to an understanding of contemporary American policies, developments within the US and how these have impacted upon our world.
Readings (alternations possible)
– «American Studies at a Crossroad: A Conversation with Donald Pease, Roby Wiegman and John Smelcer» http://ragazine.cc/2011/12/discourse-american-studies/
– Bronner, Simon J. «American Studies: A Discipline». Encyclopedia of American Studies, ed. Simon J. Bronner (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2012), s.v. „American Studies: a Discipline“ (by Simon J. Brooner), http://eas-ref.press.jhu.edu/view?aid=809 (accessed August 17, 2012).
– Castronovo, Russ and Susan Gillman 2009. States of Emergency: The Object of American Studies. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press. pp. 1-54.
– Denning, Michael 1986. „’The Special American Conditions’: Marxism and American Studies“, American Quarterly, vol.38.no.3 (1986): 356-380.
– Fisher, Phillip 1991. The New American Studies. Berkeley: University of California Press.
– Grgas, Stipe 2013. „American Studies and the Canonization of Thomas Pynchon“. journal-borderlands . serbianamericanstudies.rs
– Radway, Janice A., Kevin K. Gaines, Barry Shank and Penny Von Eschen 2009. American Studies: An Anthology. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. (selection)
– Rowe, John Carlos 2012. The Cultural Politics of the New American Studies. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Library. Open Humanities Press. http://www.scribd.com/doc/132330117/Rowe-The-Cultural-Politics-of-the-New-American-Studies
– Shapiro, Stephen 2001. „Reconfiguring American Studies?: The Paradoxes of Postnationalism“. 49th Parallel: An Interdisciplinary Journal of North American Studies. Issue 8/ Summer 2001.
In addition to these theoretical texts the course will understake a reading of Thomas Pynchon’s novel Vineland focusing upon the issue how the author in this text prefigures the present moment of the United States.