Contemporary America
Professor Schuyler
310 Stager Hall

291-4247
D_Schuyler@fandm.edu
Hours: Hours: Monday, 1:15-3:00
Tuesday, 1:15-3:30
Wednesday, 10:00-11:45 and by appointment

This is a seminar. Students will learn from each other, in discussing books and articles, in talking about their writing, just as they will from the instructor. Thus it is essential that students attend all class meetings, and have prepared reading assignments before the class in which they are due in order to participate fully in discussions. Because this is a reading seminar, the principal component of the final grade will student contributions to the discussions and the class presentations each student will make (40% of grade; three writing assignments (6-9 pages each) will represent the remaining 60% of the final grade.

Books available for purchase:

Mike Davis, City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles (New York, 1990).
Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Jeff Speck, Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream (New York, 2000).
Juan Flores, From Bomba to Hip-Hop: Puerto Rican Culture and Latino Identity (New York, 2000).
Meg Greenfield, Washington (New York, 2001).
Lorraine Delia Kenny, Daughters of Suburbia: Growing Up White, Middle Class, and Female (New Brunswick, NJ, 2000).
Sanford Levinson, Written in Stone: Public Monuments in Changing Societies (Durham, NC, 1999).
Michael Lewis, The New, New Thing (New York,1999).
Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation (Boston, 2001).
William Julius Wilson, When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor (New York, 1996).

Schedule of Meetings and Assignments

Aug. 30 Introductory Class
Who We Are: The Census of 2000 (at 2:30 the class will move to the Library Classroom, Shadek-Fackenthal Library, and meet with Tom Karel, Associate Librarian for Reference and Instruction).

Sept. 6 Demographic Change and Cultural Change
Student reports on demographic change in their communities.
Tom Wolfe, "Hooking Up: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the Second Millennium. An American's World," in Wolfe, Hooking Up (New York, 2000), pp. 3-15.

Sept. 13 Politics, Media, and the Culture of Governance
Meg Greenfield, Washington (New York, 2001).

Sept. 20 Politics and Culture in an Apocalyptic Era
Mike Davis, City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles (New York, 1992), pp. 3-14, 101-49, 223-372.

Writing assignment # 1: This paper challenges you to think about the changing demographic complexion of the nation. You may take a look at large-scale trends, or focus on how population change has affected a single community. Feel free to explore the kinds of data available in the census and find a topic that appeals to your interests. A statement of topic/thesis and outline are due on Monday, Sept. 17, at noon; short (6-8 page) essays are due Monday, Sept. 24, 2001, at noon.

Sept. 27 How, and Where, We Live
Duany, et al., Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream (New York, 2000).

Oct. 4 Gender, Enthnography, and the Construction of Middle-Class Identity
Lorraine Delia Kenny, Daughters of Suburbia: Growing Up White, Middle Class, and Female (New Brunswick, NJ, 2000).

Oct. 11 How, and What, We Eat
Schlosser, Fast Food Nation (Boston, 2001).

Oct. 18 Symbols We Live By -- and Why They Matter
Sanford Levinson, Written in Stone: Public Monuments in Changing Societies (Durham, NC, 1999).

Oct. 25 Left Behind in a Suburban Nation
William Julius Wilson, When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor (New York, 1996).

Nov. 1 No Class Meeting

Writing Assignment # 2: This paper challenges you to reflect on the transformation of the American landscape that has occurred in the decades since World War II. You should think imaginatively about the various dimensions of this transformation -- which could embrace everything from road-building to suburban sprawl to urban decline, for example -- and particular places about which you are interested in writing. Please submit a paragraph explaining the subject and interpretative theme of your paper by October 18th and schedule an appointment with me the week of Oct. 22-26. Due Monday, Nov. 5, 2001, at noon.

Nov. 8 Hip Hop Nation
Juan Flores, From Bomba to Hip-Hop: Puerto Rican Culture and Latino Identity (New York, 2000), pp. 1-29, 63-165, 191-203, 221-28.

Nov. 15 Silicon Valley and the Making of the Future
Michael Lewis, The New, New Thing (Penguin, 1999).

Nov. 22 Thanksgiving

Nov. 29 Student reports.

Dec. 6 Student reports.

Dec. 9 Writing assignment # 3 due. This paper assignment challenges you to make some sense of American society and culture at the dawn of the new millennium. Think about the future -- your generation's future, really -- and choose a couple of topics of personal interest. We'll discuss the possibilities inherent in each topic so you can choose wisely: a paper that is manageable, for which we have resources at the college library and through interlibrary loan, and that really engages your energies.