The History and Paradigms of American Studies 2 (Šesnić, 2018)(arch.)

Course title: The History and Paradigms of American Studies 2 (A, 19th c./20th c.)
Instructor: Dr. Jelena Šesnić
ECTS credits: 6
Status: elective (obligatory for American Studies majors in the 2nd semester)
Enrollment requirements: enrollment in the 2nd and/or 4th semester

Course description: This course is a companion course to the History and Paradigms of American Studies1 which investigates the origins of the discipline of American Studies. Since the 1970s, however, the discipline has undertaken to interrogate some of its main premises based on the changing conceptions of U.S. society and the nation-state. Even though the revisionist interventions begin to be felt already in the 1970s, we will posit as a starting point of our inquiry a methodological break observable in the 1980s as “ideology” becomes a necessary accompaniment of any AS inquiry. The next historical break—the end of the Cold War in 1989—indicates another momentous shift as we follow the developments thereafter. The next point of interest is 9/11 and the way it refocused the work in the discipline. These will demonstrate the efforts by so-called New Americanists to devise contesting models of American culture, while the emphases in their agendas may differ, as our readings will show. In the process of revising American Studies various theories have been made use of, ranging from New Historicism to poststructuralism, to ethnic/ race, feminist and gender studies to Marxism and cultural studies to transnational perspectives. In the process it becomes evident how each new methodology in the discipline invents, as it were, a new conception of “America” as its object of study while ur-theories and underlying conceptions in the discipline of AS show great resilience and attest to continuity. In the last part of the course the foregoing theories will be tested on an array of texts. The course is obligatory for AS majors and elective for other English MA students.
Course requirements: regular attendance, participation in class discussions, mid-term and final test (continuous assessment), presentation in class, written assignments and a final seminar paper

Syllabus (alterations possible):

Week 1: Laying the ground for (new) American Studies: disciplinary premises and theoretical frameworks (Fluck, L. Marx, Pease, Spanos)

Week 2: Ideology and readings of American artefacts in the 1980s and beyond: L. Marx, revision of American pastoralism)

Week 3: Ideology and readings of American artefacts: R. Slotkin, revision of the frontier myth

Week 4: Ideology and readings of American artefacts: S. Bercovitch, revision of the Puritan hypothesis; Spanos

Week 5: Ideology and readings of American artefacts: identity approaches (race, ethnicity, gender, class and religious identities): ethnic studies and American studies (G. Lipsitz; T. Chakkalakal; P. Chu)

Week 6: Identity approaches: class and American studies (M. Denning; W. Fluck)

Week 7: Identity approaches: religion and American studies (J. Mechling; K. Lofton)

Week 8: Mid-term test.

Week 9: Identity approaches: gender and American studies (Sh. Samuels)

Week 10: Post 9/11 and a new state of the discipline: J. C. Rowe; D. Watson

Week 11: Contemporary America: politics, society, the economy: Love Guv series

Week 12: Case study 1: Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography (1791, 1793; Shapiro)

Week 13: Case study 2: Lin-Manuel Miranda: Hamilton (musical, 2015) (The Federalist Papers, 1787/88; Ambrose)

Week 14: Case study 3: C. L. R. James: Mariners, Renegades and Castaways: The Story of Herman Melville and the World We Live In (excerpts) (Pease)

Week 15: Final test. Course evaluation.

Readings (selection)

– Bercovitch, Sacvan, and Myra Jehlen, eds. Ideology and Classic American Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986. (selection)

– Grgas, Stipe. Američki studiji danas: identitet, kapital, spacijalnost. Zagreb: Meandar, 2015. (selection)

– Fluck, Winfried, Donald E. Pease, and John Carlos Rowe, eds. Re-Framing the Transnational Turn in American Studies. Hanover, NH: Dartmouth College Press, 2011. (selection)

– Levander, Caroline and Robert S. Levine, eds. A Companion to American Literary Studies. Malden, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011. (selection)

-Pease, Donald, and Robyn Wiegman, eds. The Futures of American Studies. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2002. (selection)

– Rowe, John Carlos, ed. A Concise Companion to American Studies. Malden, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. (selection)

– Rowe, John Carlos. The Cultural Politics of the New American Studies. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Library, 2012.Open Humanities Press. (selection)

– Shu, Yuan, and Donald E. Pease, eds. American Studies as Transnational Practice: Turning towards the Transpacific. Hanover, NH: Dartmouth College P, 2015.

A course reader with assigned readings will be provided on Omega.