Such paradoxes of life in the United States organize this introductory tour of various "domains" (family, religion, community, gender, race, ethnicity, etc.) from the point of view of what many observers have recognized as their cultural particularity. The discussion will be grounded in, mostly, anthropological and sociological discussions of this particularity. While discussion of American culture are necessarily political, both in the United States and internationally, the approach in this course will be analytic and inductive from case studies. In other words, it is a review of what cultural anthropologists and the sociologists most sympathetic to anthropological approaches have said about America as a culture, and thus of the more fundamental controversies about it.
The course should be of interest of students from all departments of the College who have a strong sense of the need to understand the broad context of their practical action in education, psychology or the health professions. It should also be of interest to foreign students wishing an intellectual introduction to the classical works on America.
The course is also by necessity, an example of the use of the concept of culture to attempt to deal with a set of empirical and practical questions.
Requirements While there will be no quizzes or exams to check whether the required readings have been made, I will always assume that they have indeed been made. Class lectures and discussions will never simply summarize the content of the readings. Rather the readings serve as the basis for further elaboration grounded in the readings. The major requirement is a research paper (20-30 pages) on a topic of interest to the student that is to be handed in at the end of the semester. This research paper should consist mostly of a review and discussion of the contribution of the literature in the social sciences to the topic. Two other small essays are required (3-5 pages). They are intended to get me to understand better the intellectual and practice concerns that have brought you to be concerned with "America". Schedule of required work 9/29 3-5 pages essay outlining the source of your interest in "America." What is "America" to you, intellectually? 11/3 (preferably) or 11/10 (at the latest) 3-5 page outline of the research paper you are considering, including rough plan for the paper, bibliography, etc. 12/15 Final paper. This is the absolute deadline that guarantees that I will enter a grade for the course. I am somewhat liberal with incompletes. I do however expect more from a paper that is handed late, and that does not have to be completed under a time pressure. Office Hours I am available on Thursday afternoons, from 2 to 4, and by appointment ( 678-3190) in room 278 DH. Phone coverage is intermitant. Leave messages on the machine. Remember: we are a literate culture! The easiest manner to reach me may be in writing... Required Reading Introduction: America, Culture, Education 9/8 Introduction. 9/15 [NO CLASS] de Tocqueville Democracy in America. Vol. 1, Part I, chapters 3, 4, 5 Vol. 1, Part II, chapters 1, 5, 7 Vol. 2, Part II, chapters 1-9 9/22 Varenne, Hervé "Introduction, Chap. 1, 2" Symbolizing America. Lincoln, NE: The University of Nebraska Press. 1986 Ideology: Individualism, Communalism, Interpersonalism 9/29 Bellah, Robert The broken covenant. New York: The Seabury Press. 1975 10/6 Kluckhohn, Florence, and Fred Strodtbeck Variations in value orientation. Evanston, IL: Row, Peterson and Co.. 1961 Shweder, Richard, "Does the concept of the person vary cross-culturally?" in Shweder and LeVine, eds., Culture theory, 158-199. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1984 10/13 Carbaugh, Donal Talking American. Norwood, N.J.: Ablex Publishing Corp.. 1988 10/20 Schneider, David American kinship. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1980 Dilemma, Contradiction, Revitalization, Change 10/27 Canaan, Joyce "Why a 'slut' is a 'slut': Cautionary tales of middle-class teenage girls' morality." in H. Varenne, ed., Symbolizing America... p. 184-208 11/10 Varenne, Hervé "'Drop in any time': Community and authenticity in American everyday life." In H. Varenne, ed., Symbolizing America... p. 209-228. 11/17 Newman, Katherine Falling from grace: The experience of downward mobility in the American Middle Class. New York: The Free Press. 1988 11/24 Dumont, Louis "Caste, racism and 'stratification': Reflections of a social anthropologist." In Homo Hierarchicus, 239-258. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1970  de Tocqueville Democracy in America. Vol. 1, Part II, chapter 10 The culturing of American education 12/1 Sollors, Werner Beyond ethnicity: Consent and descent in American culture. New York: Oxford University Press. 1986 12/8 Dewey, John Democracy and education. New York: The Free Press. 1966  12/15 Conclusion