History | Identities in American History
A379 | 4862 | L. Creed

Above class open to undergraduates and EDUC MA's only

How do you know who you are? How did ideas of “the self” evolve over
time? How do we as a society identify ourselves in the world? This
course surveys major changes and continuities in the identities of
Americans from the mid-nineteenth through the twentieth century. We
will explore how key aspects of identity—including class, race,
gender, and sexuality—were constantly remade and redefined, and so
shaped the experience of living in American society in the past. At
the same time, we will attempt to uncover how these identities were
affected, even regulated, by larger social, cultural, political, and
economic factors. How were identities socially created and
constructed? We will consider both individual and group identities,
since identity itself is derived in part through relationships.

Readings for the course include fascinating studies of Theodore
Roosevelt; the cosmetic industry from 1890-1930; World War II and
psychiatry; the Beats in the 1950s; the Montgomery bus boycott and
civil rights movement; and the women’s rights movement and the
backlash against it. You will be a historian, too, as we examine
primary documents throughout the course.