American Studies | U.S. Movements & Institutions Topic: From Diaries to Graffiti: Reading and Writing America
A201 | 14800 | Kathleen McConnell


(3 cr. A & H) In this course, we will study a variety of reading and
writing practices including political pamphlets, spelling bees,
graffiti, cookbooks, diary-keeping, romance novels, yearbooks,
blogs, chatrooms, and zines. Our aim is to understand the role these
practices play in the on-going effort to imagine and sustain
American identities. In the name of democracy, the American school
system demands that we learn standardized English in order that we
might engage over our common interests. Despite continual efforts to
realize a unified American identity through teaching standardized
English, reading and writing practices more often generate varying
and competing literacies. Through a survey of these practices, this
course investigates two defining American values: assimilation and
diversity, and considers their possible future configurations.
Rather than seek a means of eliminating “illiteracy,” the goal of
this course is to challenge the persistent belief that there is only
one way to be literate, and to entertain the possibility
of “literacies.”