American Civilization



AMS 1B American Civilization, Spring Semester 2009   Page 1 of 9  

San José State University 

Humanities Department 

AMS 1B American Civilization – Spring 2009 

Instructors: Sean Connelly, Maura Daly, Judith Georges 

Office Locations: CL 414N / CL 412K / CL 414H 

Telephones: (408) 924-1367 / (408) 924-4713 / (408) 924-4780 


Email: See seminar syllabus 

Office Hours: (SC)  T/TH 3:00-4:00 p.m. 

(MD) T/TH 10:00-11:30 a.m. 

(JG)   T/TH 11:15-11:45 a.m. / 2:45-3:15 p.m. 


Class Days/Time: Lecture T/TH 12-1:15 p.m. 

Seminars T/TH 1:30-2:45 p.m. 


Classrooms: Lecture: BBC 004  [Sec. 30] 

Seminars: (SC) DMH 354 [Sec. 33]; (MD); SH 238 [Sec. 31] 

(JG) SH 241 [Sec. 32] 


Prerequisites: American Studies: American Civilization 1A 


GE/SJSU Studies Category:  Core G.E. (12 credits) in Area C1 Arts, Area C2 Letters, Area 

D2 Comparative Systems, Area D3 Social Issues, American 

Institutions (all six credits): U.S. History, U.S. Constitution, 

California Government. 


Faculty Web Pages  

Copies of the course materials such as the syllabus, major assignment handouts, etc. may be 

found on faculty web pages accessible through the Quick Links>Faculty Web Page links on 

the SJSU home page. You are responsible for regularly checking with the messaging system 

through MySJSU (or other communication system as indicated by the instructor). Prof. 

Connelly monitors a course blog ( 

Course Description  

An interdisciplinary overview of the development of American culture and civilization from 

the European conquest to the present, featuring analyses of American history, politics, 

religion, literature, visual art, and music. AMS 1A covers the period of first contact between 

Native Americans, Africans, and Europeans through the Reconstruction era. AMS 1B 

continues from the post-Civil War period up to the present. Recurrent themes include race 


AMS 1B American Civilization, Spring Semester 2009   Page 2 of 9  

and racism, cross-cultural interactions, the use and misuse of power, the impact of rising 

technologies, and the social implications of gender ideologies.  

The course consists of two interwoven components: a lecture and seminar. Each class begins 

with a large group lecture delivered by one of the three instructors or a guest lecturer. 

Lectures may also feature films, television shows, and music. After each lecture, students 

meet in smaller seminar groups for analytic discussions of selected material from the 

lectures and/or weekly readings. Each seminar, led by one of the three professors, has 

distinctive requirements and assignments in addition to those attached to the lecture 

component. AMS 1B will also require a field trip assignment. 

Course Goals and Student Learning Objectives 

Upon successful completion of AMS 1B, students will have: 


LO1: Traced the development of the complex strands of America’s history. Reading 

assignments, lectures, seminar discussions.  


LO2: Analyzed the tensions between the ideals and actual experiences of mainstream and 

minority groups. Reading assignments, seminar discussions.  


LO3: Explored aspects of the evolution of the verbal, visual, and musical culture of America 

from the post-Reconstruction period through the present. Lecture and seminar presentations, 

field trip assignment. 


LO4: Articulated (verbally and in writing) unique interpretations of America’s cultural, 

economic, political, and social history. Seminar and lecture hall discussions, midterm and 

final exams, papers. 

Required Texts/Readings  

1. Norton, Mary Beth et al., A People and a Nation, 8th edition, Houghton Mifflin, 2008. 

2. Lauter, Paul, ed., The Heath Anthology of American Literature, concise edition, Houghton 

Mifflin, 2004.  

3. Hansberry, Lorraine, Raisin in the Sun 

4. Hammett, Dashiell, The Maltese Falcon 

5. Hamid, Mohsin, The Reluctant Fundamentalist 


Additional readings will be assigned occasionally and access to the Internet and a DVD 

player for viewing media assignments is required.  

Classroom Protocol 

Lectures will begin and end on time. If you occasionally arrive late, slip in quietly, but do 

not make this habitual. If you are late or miss a lecture, you must obtain notes from 

classmates – not the instructors.  


AMS 1B American Civilization, Spring Semester 2009   Page 3 of 9  

Please mute cell phones and stow all personal electronic equipment (including laptops) at 

the start of each lecture. Students registered with the Disability Resources Center will be 

allowed devices recommended by the DRC. 

Dropping and Adding 

Students are responsible for understanding the policies and procedures about add/drops, 

academic renewal, etc. Information on add/drops are available at 

dbgen/narr/soc-fall/rec-298.html. Information about late drop is available at . Students should be aware of the current 

deadlines and penalties for adding and dropping classes.  

Assignments and Grading Policy 

Each student is responsible for all materials presented in lecture, discussed in seminar, and 

assigned in the comprehensive and individual seminar syllabi. Reading assignments must 

be completed by the due date indicated on the course schedule.  


Students are expected to attend both lecture and seminar meetings each day.  Although the 

lectures are usually linked to the readings, they enhance rather than duplicate them.  Seminar 

instructors will presume you have attended the lecture and will not repeat its contents. 


All students will take a midterm and final exam; write two papers, and complete a field trip 

assignment. In addition, each seminar will have a unique set of participation requirements. 


Your instructors are committed to the differential grading range defined as follows in the 

SJSU catalogue: A (excellent); B (above average); C (average); D (below average); F 

(failure). For seminar- specific grading scales, see your assigned instructor. 


Grading percentages are as follows: 


Individual Seminar Requirements  20% 

Paper 1     15% 

Paper 2     15% 

Final Examination    20% 

Midterm      15% 

Field Trip Assignment    15% 

University Policies 

Academic integrity 

Students should know that the University’s Academic Integrity Policy is available at 

Your own commitment to learning, as evidenced by your enrollment at San Jose State 

University and the University’s integrity policy, require you to be honest in all your 

academic course work. Faculty members are required to report all infractions to the office of 


AMS 1B American Civilization, Spring Semester 2009   Page 4 of 9  

Student Conduct and Ethical Development. The website for Student Conduct and Ethical 

Development is available at  

Instances of academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. Cheating on exams or plagiarism 

(presenting the work of another as your own, or the use of another person’s ideas without 

giving proper credit) will result in a failing grade and sanctions by the University. For this 

class, all assignments are to be completed by the individual student unless otherwise 

specified. If you would like to include in your assignment any material you have submitted, 

or plan to submit for another class, please note that SJSU’s Academic Policy F06-1 requires 

approval of instructors. 

Campus Policy in Compliance with the American Disabilities Act 

If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, or if you need to 

make special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an 

appointment with your seminar instructor as soon as possible, or see him or her during office 

hours. Presidential Directive 97-03 requires that students with disabilities requesting 

accommodations must register with the DRC (Disability Resource Center) to establish a 

record of their disability. 

Student Technology Resources 

Computer labs for student use are available in the Academic Success Center located on the 

1st floor of Clark Hall and on the 2nd floor of the Student Union. Additional computer labs 

may be available in your department/college. Computers are also available in the Martin 

Luther King Library. 


A wide variety of audio-visual equipment is available for student checkout from Media 

Services located in IRC 112. These items include digital and VHS camcorders, VHS and 

Beta video players, 16 mm, slide, overhead, DVD, CD, and audiotape players, sound 

systems, wireless microphones, projection screens and monitors. 

Learning Assistance Resource Center  

The Learning Assistance Resource Center (LARC) is located in Room 600 in the Student 

Services Center. It is designed to assist students in the development of their full academic 

potential and to motivate them to become self-directed learners. The center provides support 

services, such as skills assessment, individual or group tutorials, subject advising, learning 

assistance, summer academic preparation and basic skills development. The LARC website 

is located at http:/ 

SJSU Writing Center  

The SJSU Writing Center is located in Room 126 in Clark Hall.  Professional instructors and 

upper-division or graduate-level writing specialists from each of the seven SJSU colleges 

staff it. Our writing specialists have met a rigorous GPA requirement, and they are well 

trained to assist all students at all levels within all disciplines to become better writers. The 

Writing Center website is located at 


AMS 1B American Civilization, Spring Semester 2009   Page 5 of 9  

Peer Mentor Center  

The Peer Mentor Center is located on the 1st floor of Clark Hall in the Academic Success 

Center. The Peer Mentor Center is staffed with Peer Mentors who excel in helping students 

manage university life, tackling problems that range from academic challenges to 

interpersonal struggles. On the road to graduation, Peer Mentors are navigators, offering 

“roadside assistance” to peers who feel a bit lost or simply need help mapping out the 

locations of campus resources. Peer Mentor services are free and available on a drop –in 

basis, no reservation required. The Peer Mentor Center website is located at 


AMS 1B Spring 2009 Course Schedule 

This schedule is subject to change with fair notice. Changes will be announced at 

lectures and/or seminars. 

Table 1 Course Schedule 

Week Date Topics, Readings, Assignments, Deadlines 


1/22 Introduction and Course Overview 







Film: American Outrage  

Norton (N) 17: The Development of the West, 1865-1877 


Rolling Up the World: The Ghost Dance Movement  

Heath (H): “What I am Going to Tell You Here Will Take Me Until 

Dark,” Standing Bear (Ponca) (1881) 1593-1596; Gertrude Bonnin 

(Zitkala-Sa), “School Days” (1686-1696) 






Film: America 1900  

N18: The Machine Age, 1877-1920  


Electrifying America  

H: “South of the Slot,” Jack London, (1581-1593); “The Yellow 

Wallpaper,” Charlotte Perkins Gilman, (1596-1609)  







Modernity & Alienation: Henry Adams  

N19: The Vitality and Turmoil of Urban Life, 1877-1920; H: “The 

Dynamo and the Virgin,” Henry Adams, (1609-1618); “The Open 

Boat,” Stephen Crane, (1555-1573) 


Take Me Out to the Ballgame   

Seminar Film: Chinese in the Frontier West 






Film: Ethnic Notions  

N20: Gilded Age Politics, 1877-1900   


Scientific Racism and Lynching  

H: Charles W. Chesnutt, “Goophered Grapevine (1405-1415); 

Paul Laurence Dunbar, ”Antebellum Sermon,” “When Malindy 

Sings,” “Sympathy” (1423-1429); “Lynch Law in America,” Ida B. 

Wells-Barnett, 1900 


Week Date Topics, Readings, Assignments, Deadlines 







Visualizing Race: W.E.B. Du Bois & the American Negro Exhibit 

N21: The Progressive Era, 1895-1920; H: Up From Slavery (Chs. 

XIII & XIV), Booker T. Washington, (1736-1747); The Souls of 

Black Folk (Chs. I & III), W.E.B. Du Bois, (1747-1762) Paper 1 due 


WWJD? The Social Gospel  

H: Anzia Yezierska, “America and I,” (2065-2073) Jane Addams, 

Twenty Years at Hull House, Ch.8, Problems of Poverty, 








Film: Bloody Blundering Business  

N22: The Quest for Empire, 1865-1914; H: “Editha,” William Dean 

Howells, (1443-1454) 


The Brute in the Boiler Room: Eugene O’Neill’s Critique of 

Industrial Modernity and Imperialism in The Hairy Ape and 

Emperor Jones 

H: Hairy Ape, 1856-1889; Emperor Jones 










“Nothing in Common”: The Wobblies vs. the Bosses’ 


N23: Americans in the Great War, 1914-1920 












N24: The New Era, 1920-1929; H: “The New Negro Renaissance,” 

(1984-1987); Langston Hughes, Intro + poems + “The Negro Artist 

and the Racial Mountain,” (2006-2014); “Sweat,” Zora Neale 

Hurston, (2034-2042). 


The Other Show in Town: Aimee Semple McPherson 







SPRING BREAK / Cesar Chavez Day – no classes  


Minting Modernity in the American Roman Noir 

N25: The Great Depression and the New Deal, 1929-1941; N26: The 

United States in a Troubled World, 1920-1941; The Maltese Falcon, 

Dashiell Hammett 


Week Date Topics, Readings, Assignments, Deadlines 







Film: The Day After Trinity  

N27: The Second World War at Home and Abroad, 1941-1945 


Angel-headed Hipsters in a Cold War Golgotha 

H: Robert Creely, (2328-2332); various Beat poets (2352-2375); 

Handout: J. Kerouac, “October in the Railroad Earth”; A. Baraka, 

“Poem for Willie Best” and “Black Dada Nihilismus”  








What’s Going On is Not a Question: The 60s from the Days  

of Rage to Stax 

N28: The Cold War and American Globalism, 1945-1961; A Raisin 

in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry 


Message to McCarthy: The Scopes Trial Revisited  

View Inherit the Wind before the lecture 








We Love Lucy and Desi  

N29: America at Midcentury, 1945-1960; H: “I Stand Here Ironing,” 

Tillie Olsen, (2183-2190) 


Bewitched by the Feminine Mystique  

Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique, Ch. 1: “The Problem That 

Has No Name” 

Paper 2 due 










Soul Music, WUO, Youth Culture 

N30: The Tumultuous Sixties, 1960-1968; H. Denise Levertov 

(2560-2563); Yusuf Komunyaka (2579-2583); Handout: Selections 

from Prairie Fire 


Film: Winter Soldier 

“Letter from Birmingham Jail,” M.L. King, 1963 

“The Ballot or the Bullet,” Malcolm X, 1964 

H: “In the Field,” Tim O’Brien, (2571-2579) 







New Reproductive Technologies  

N31: Continuing Divisions and New Limits, 1969-1980 


Introduction to Intersex: Is it a Boy or a Girl? 

“What If It’s (Sort of) a Boy and (Sort of) a Girl?” NY Times 

Magazine, 9/24/06 




5/12 Roundtable Discussion: The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Mohsin 


N32: Conservatism Revived, 1980-1992; Field Trip assignment due 



5/19 BBC 004 12:15-2:30 p.m.  


1 Comment »

  1. Professor Connelly, I went the Asian American Film Festival and watched several films. I was wondering if I could come to your office during your office hours to discuss the films instead of writing a summary of it. I’d really like to talk to you about some of the films because honestly, some I just didn’t understand and one of the films was a mixtape of different short films. I think discussing the films would be more beneficial for both of us. Thanks.

    Comment by Christine Sauveur — March 24, 2009 @ 8:44 pm | Reply

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