History | Seminar in U.S. History
H750 | 2803 | Dwyer


A portion of the above section reserved for majors
Above section meets with AMST G751

TOPIC:  AMERICAN SOCIAL AND CULTURAL HISTORY

During the week of September 2, four out of the five top non-fiction
entries on the New York Times bestseller list were works of history.
In a NPR interview, David Hackett Fischer attributed history's
revived popularity to the revitalization (and reshaping) of old-
fashioned narratives by recent works of social and cultural history.
In this seminar, students will attempt similar (albeit smaller)
projects.  Our goal is the production of well-crafted stories about
the American past which are based on original research.

During the first few weeks of the semester, we will read and discuss
seminal theoretical articles on topics such as law, race, and
ideology. (Possible readings include Robert Gordon on law, Evelyn
Higgenbotham on race and gender, Ian Hacking on psychiatry, and
Daniel Rodgers on "keywords" in American political culture.) We next
will turn to recent research which uses original sources in
innovative ways.  (Here, for example, we may look at Linda Gordon on
the welfare state, James Goodman on the Scottsboro Boys, and Robert
Orsi on popular religious practices and memory.)  Then, students will
work on paper prospecti, critical reports on secondary and primary
sources related to their topics, and rough paper drafts.  (The first
will be distributed for general class discussion.)  The final seminar
product will be a research paper of roughly 20 to thirty pages;
ideally, it will be a draft which subsequently might be revised for
publication.

Most of the course grade will depend on the final paper but I also
will take into account responses to the initial readings, class
participation, and preliminary paper work. Although my own major
interest is the 19th and 20th century U.S., students who wish to work
in the colonial period also are welcome.

There are no books for the course; instead, there will be a reader.