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AMCS 375A - American Culture: Methods & Visions: Haunted By History

"The past isn't dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even past." Barack Obama used this often-quoted line (which he paraphrased) from novelist William Faulkner to promote a sense of unity and hopeful purpose, while acknowledging that the sufferings and struggles of African Americans have not yet been reconciled as part of the American national story. In this Trumpian moment, we seem to have retreated from the reckoning with the unburied past Obama described. Certainly, our racial history continues to haunt us, as controversies over the removal of Confederate monuments and resurgence of white supremacism (not to mention police brutality and immigration policy) suggest. Yet there are creative expressions of our obligation to remember problematic histories all around--in #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter; in the celebrated new lynching memorial, and just-passed prison reform bill; even in the enduring appeal of Hamilton. Taking the idea of a not-yet-buried past seriously, this seminar asks what difference it makes to think of American culture as one defined by problematic, contested, or suppressed histories that revisit themselves in later times, often as unresolved legacies and pains that disrupt social and political life? By what means--analytical, historical, theoretical imaginative--can we understand the ongoing effects of these "restive," haunting and traumatic histories? In answering these questions, we will study controversies of public memory; read the work of theorists, historians, artists, and commentators from W.E. B. DuBois to Ta-Nehisi Coates; and consider how haunting pasts have been represented in the arts, culture, and public life. A Writing Intensive course, AMCS 375A serves as an occasion for students to think about matters of argument and presentation, as well as the methods and models that will serve future research. Students should expect to do a lot of writing and reading, and to produce a series of shorter assignments that culminate in a final multidisciplinary project-proposal. This course is intended for students at the Junior Level or Higher; it fulfills the "multidisciplinary" (MD) requirement for AMCS Minors and the "Methods Seminar" requirements for AMCS Majors. PREFERENCE GIVEN TO AMCS MAJORS AND MINORS
A&S IQ:HUM, WI:Arch, HUM:Art, HUM:EN, H:
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