Introduction to American Studies
Professor David Schuyler
310 Stager Hall
Hours: Monday, 1:30 - 3:00
and by appointment
AMS 100 is an interdisciplinary approach to the study of American culture in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This course emphasizes the application of methods of historical analysis and question framing by investigating the interplay of national identity, class, race, and gender.
Course requirements: As students you will learn from each other, in discussing books and articles, in talking about your writing, just as you 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. Students will take an hour examination on Feb. 21, 2018 (20 percent of final grade), submit two short (4-5 page) papers (each counting 25% of the final grade), and take a final examination at the time scheduled by the registrar (30% of final grade). Class participation is very important in the final evaluation of student performance.
Paper topics will be assigned in class, and typed, carefully written, thoughtful essays are due at the beginning of class on Mar. 9 and Apr. 11, 2018. No late papers will be accepted without the prior approval of the instructor.
The instructor believes that academic integrity is essential to learning and expects that all students will familiarize themselves with and comply with relevant college policies.
Books available for purchase
Alger, Horatio, Ragged Dick (1868; New York, 1985).
P. T. Barnum, Struggles and Triumphs (New York: Penguin Classics, 1981).
John F. Kasson, Amusing the Million: Coney Island at the Turn of the Century (New York: Hill & Wang, 1978).
Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin; Or, Life Among the Lowly (1852; New York: Bantam Classics, 1983).
Anzia Yezierska, Bread Givers (1925; New York: Persea Books, 1975).
Copies of these books have been placed on reserve at Shadek-Fackenthal Library. Most of the books are also available on Google books. All other required readings are available on the course Canvas folder. Underscored readings below are hypertext links.
Schedule of Meetings and Assignments
Jan. 17 Introduction to the Course and to American Studies
Jan. 19 No class meeting
Jan. 22 Washington, D.C. and the Culture of Republicanism
Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia (1785; New York, 1964), query xix.
Architect of the Capitol, Location of the Capital, and History of the U. S. Capitol. Read about the construction of the Capitol to 1830. Read critically and think about the symbolism of the capitol as well as the significance of who built it.
Images of the Nation's Capital.
(rec) Richard Guy Wilson, The Architecture of Thomas Jefferson.
Jan. 24 The Dynamics of Social Change
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (1835-40), vol. 2, Second Book, chap. 13.
Jan. 26 Patriotism and Historical Memory
Gulian C. Verplanck, "Washington's Headquarters," New York Mirror, Dec. 27, 1834, in Lyman Cobb, ed., North American Reader (New York, 1835), pp. 137-46.
Jan. 31 An American Landscape Tradition
James Fenimore Cooper, "English and American Scenery Compared," in A Landscape Book, by American Artists and American Authors (New York, 1868), pp. 1-21.
Washington Irving, "The Catskill Mountains," in A Landscape Book, by American Artists and American Authors (New York, 1868), pp. 22-29.
Feb. 2 The Empire of Nature
Washington Irving, "A Tour on the Prairies" (1835), in Selected Writings of Washington Irving (New York, 1984), pp. 463-97.
Feb. 5 Gender and the Culture of Domesticity
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (1835-40), vol. 2, Third Book, chap. VIII, "Influence of Democracy on the Family."
Tocqueville, Democracy,chap. IX, "Education of Young Women in the United States."
Tocqueville, Democracy. chap. X, "The Young Woman in the Character of a Wife."
Catharine Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe, The American Woman's Home; Or, Principles of Domestic Economy (New York, 1869).
Feb. 7 Life and Labor: The Middle-Class World
P. T. Barnum, Struggles and Triumphs, pp. 45-98.
Feb. 9 The Public and its Taste in the Antebellum Years
P. T. Barnum, Struggles and Triumphs, pp. 99-157.
Feb. 12 Republican Technology: Lowell
Herman Melville, "The Tartarus of Maids."
Susan Smulyan, "Whole Cloth: Discovering Science and Technology Through American Textile History," a web site sponsored by the Lemelson Center, Smithsonian Institution, and the Society for the History of Technology.
Feb. 14 Technology and American Culture
Nathaniel Hawthorne, "The Celestial Railroad," Mosses From an Old Manse (1846).
Feb. 16 A Plea for Individualism in a Rapidly-changing World
Henry David Thoreau, "Economy" and "Where I Lived, What I Lived For," from Walden; Or, Life in the Woods (1854). You can also read these two chapters on the Transcendentalists web site.
Feb. 19 Building the Perfect Society: Social Reform
James Buchanan, Advice to Students on Temperance, 1857.
H. B. Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin, chaps. 1-8.
Feb. 21 Hour Exam
Feb. 23 Another Quest for Freedom
H. B. Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin, chaps. 9-17.
Feb. 26 Slavery, Economy, and Race
H. B. Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin, chaps. 18-27.
Feb. 28 Slavery and the Crisis of Nationality
H. B. Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin, chaps. 28-35.
Mar. 2 The Civil War and the Promise of Freedom
Screening of The Massachusetts Colored 54th Regiment.
H. B. Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin, chaps. 36-45.
J. H. Gooding, letter to the New Bedford Mercury, Apr. 18, .
Mar. 5 Lincoln and the Failed Promise of Reconstruction
Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863, and Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865.
W. E. B. DuBois, Souls of Black Folks, chapters 1 and 2.
Abraham Lincoln Online.
Mar. 7 No class meeting.
Mar. 9 Victorian Culture and City Culture
[E. L. Godkin], "A Word About Museums," Nation 1 (July 27, 1865): 113-14.
[P.T. Barnum], "Mr. Barnum on Museums," Nation 1 (August 10, 1865): 171-72.
P. T. Barnum, Struggles and Triumphs, pp. 350-60.
Mar. 19 P. T. Barnum's America
P. T. Barnum, Struggles and Triumphs, pp. 170-237.
Mar. 21 The Showman and his Public
P. T. Barnum, Struggles and Triumphs, pp. 247-314.
Mar. 23 War, Memory, and a New Architectural Imagery
Charles Eliot Norton, "Something About Monuments," Nation 1 (Aug.3, 1865): 154-56.
Charles Eliot Norton, "The Harvard and Yale Memorial Buildings," Nation 5 (July 11, 1867): 34-35.
Mar. 26 Down and Out in the City
Horatio Alger, Ragged Dick, chaps. 1-13.
Mar. 28 Horatio Alger's America
Alger, Ragged Dick, chaps. 14-26.
Mar. 30 Street Life in New York City (Ragged Dick's world)
Timothy J. Gilfoyle, "Street Rats and Gutter-Snipes: Child Pickpockets and Street Culture in New York City, 1850-1900," Journal of Social History 37 (Summer 2004): 853-82.
Apr. 2 A Century of Progress, 1776-1876
Henry Ward Beecher, "The Advance of a Century," New York Tribune, Extra No. 33, July 4, 1876, in Alan Trachtenberg, ed., Democratic Vistas, 1860-1880 (New York, 1970), pp. 66-82.
Apr. 4 Technological Promise and its Limits
Richard T. Ely, "Pullman: A Social Study," Harper's Monthly 70 (Feb. 1885): 452-66.
Apr. 6 Screening of Journey to America
Anzia Yezierska, Bread Givers, pp. 1-110
Apr. 9 The Immigrant Experience
Anzia Yezierska, Bread Givers, chaps. 111-208.
Apr. 11 Life on the Lower East Side
Anzia Yezierska, Bread Givers, pp. 209-297.
Apr. 13 Monuments of Victorian Culture in America
Kasson, Amusing the Million, pp. 3-28.
Apr. 16 American Renaissance: Chicago's White City of 1893
Frederick Law Olmsted, "The Landscape Architecture of the World's Columbian Exposition," American Architect and Building News 41 (Sept. 9, 1893): 151-54. EDISK
Please read at least one of the following sites carefully and browse through at least one other:
Paul T. Galvin Library Digital History Collection, World's Columbian Exhibition of 1893, Illinois Institute of Technology.
Chicago Historical Society, World's Columbian Exhibition.
Julie K. Rose, The World's Columbian Exhibition: Idea, Experience, Aftermath, M.A. thesis, University of Virginia, 1996.
Interactive Guide to the World's Columbian Exposition,by Bruce R. Schulman.
Apr. 18 The Underside of the White City
Frederick Douglass, Introduction, The Reason Why the Colored American Is Not in the World's Columbian Exposition, ed. Ida B. Wells (1893).
Frederick Douglass, Souls of Black Folks (1901), chapters 3-5.
Apr. 20 The Color Line and the Enduring Dilemma of Race
W. E. B. DuBois, Souls of Black Folks, chapters 6-8.
Apr. 23 Old Problems, New Toys
John Kasson, Amusing the Million, pp. 29-85.
Apr. 25 A New America Takes Shape
John Kasson, Amusing the Million, pp. 86-112.