American Civilization

May 15, 2009


Filed under: PSAs — equiano @ 4:52 pm

The short answer section of the final exam will work as follows: of the 15 prompts students will choose 10.

April 22, 2009


Filed under: PSAs — equiano @ 5:40 am

Here are the readings for the Warhol assignment:,9171,956966,00.html

“The Best and Worst of Warhol,” 1969

“Man for the Machine,” 1971,8816,913403,00.html

“King of the Banal,” 1975,8816,913403,00.html

“A Caterer of Repetition and Glut,” 1987,9171,956966,00.html

April 21, 2009

Syllabus Changes

Filed under: PSAs — equiano @ 9:07 pm

As was announced in lecture today, the syllabus has changed. If this is slightly irritating for those of you who yearn for structure, consider that your professors’ occasional tweaks of the schedule indicate an on-going connection to the course. 


We will screen Hearts and Minds, an academy award winning documentary on the Vietnam War. 

Readings: Chapter 30 of the Norton; Tim O’Brien’s short story “In the Field” from the Heath


Lecture: ‘What’s Going On’ Is Not a Question: The 60s from the Days of Rage to Wattstax

Readings: A handout (provided in lecture on 4/23) culled from Weather Underground’s Prairie Fire; Levertov and Komunyakaa (Heath); “Letter from Birmingham Jail” & “The Ballot or the Bullet”.

My seminar: 

The due date for the final paper has been pushed back to 4/28. Remember, tempus fugit– so make the most of this opportunity.

It’s probably far too late in the semester to raise the issue, but if you don’t bring your book to class then why bother coming? Would you go to the pool without a swimsuit? Frankly, it’s getting pretty fucking annoying.

I urge you not to phone it in for the last weeks of class. This is deadly serious stuff, and your honest, diligent engagement with the course will profit you in ways far exceeding mere lucre. As we skid into the contemporary era in our studies, you may find useful tools with which to pry open many of the most perplexing aspects of the present. Passivity and alienation are, in the end, luxuries which most of the planet simply can’t afford. Which is to say: because we are here others are not. Others are flipping burgers, fueling jets, folding t-shirts, booting up, washing dishes, counting minutes. 

Good luck.

April 18, 2009

Additional Paper Guidelines

Filed under: PSAs — equiano @ 8:48 am

The final paper is, in a sense, a summation of your work for American Civilization this year. Here are some additional guidelines:

No title page.

All pages numbered. 

MLA format works cited and in-text citations. Note: NOT something approximating MLA, but MLA. 

It is STRONGLY recommended that you use outside (scholarly) sources in the writing of your paper using sources such as JSTOR or Project Muse.

Papers should be not only the product of meaningful reflection but careful attention to detail. Grammar, diction and syntax are important features of a final draft. Be sure to workshop your paper, either with a knowledgeable assistant or  at the writing center.

April 16, 2009

2nd Paper Prompt

Filed under: PSAs — equiano @ 8:01 pm

Paper #2, American Studies 1B, Spring 2009

Professors Connelly, Daly, Georges

Paper #2, worth 20% of your course grade, is due April 23, 2009, at 12 noon in the lecture hall.  Choose one of the prompts below.  Articulate a coherent thesis—i.e., a non-trivial claim based on your analysis of the specific material referred to in the prompt—and substantiate it with well-organized, accurate, and richly detailed references to course material.

The paper must be double-spaced with normal margins.  Use an easily readable font of approximately this size (Palatino 12-point).  The paper should be four to five (4-5) pages long, or a minimum of 1000 words.  We do not accept emailed or faxed papers.  

Your own thinking should constitute the core of the essay, but you are permitted to use outside resources to support your analysis IF they are meticulously cited following MLA guidelines.  Citations of scholarly articles may be helpful, but you may not cite sources like Wikipedia, Sparknotes, and Cliff Notes; if you have questions about the appropriateness of any sources, talk to your seminar instructor or a university librarian.


Write an essay which explores the contours of modernity through the characteristics and experiences of two of the following literary protagonists: Yank, from O’Neill’s Hairy Ape; Delia Jones, from Hurston’s “Sweat;” Brigid O’Shaunessy, from Hammett’s Maltese Falcon, and Walter Younger, from Hansberry’s Raisin in the Sun. You must articulate a thesis which connects or relates the characters in some substantive way, and you must ground your discussion in a close reading and analysis of the texts, and in an historical understanding of modernity.  

What does it mean to be an America patriot? Does being patriotic imply that American citizens cannot publicly criticize national policies, systems, or culture? Are American citizens who seek to overthrow what they perceive as unjust political, economic, religious, or cultural institutions unpatriotic? Is the United States government ever justified in trampling on the civil liberties of Americans? Formulate a definition of patriotism and address these questions in terms of the issues and social conditions that arose in American society during the early Cold War period. Incorporate into your answer contextual material from Norton, analyses from the lectures, and from your own ideas about corresponding readings/films on the Cold War culture and McCarthyism.

Both Dashiell Hammett and Theodor Adorno focus on the condition of modernity in the opening decades of the 20th century. Compare and contrast their ideas, paying particular attention to the issue of the effects of this phase of capitalism on social relations. You may find it useful to consider “-izations”: modernization, standardization, routinization, etc.

March 24, 2009

I’ll meet you in the park and we can share a can of beans

Filed under: PSAs — equiano @ 3:32 pm

How completely shredded is your economic future? Here’s one take, a bottlerocket of an essay by Matt Talibbi.

March 19, 2009

Reading for April 9th

Filed under: PSAs — equiano @ 7:01 pm
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Above: an image stolen from

The syllabus is changing: the new reading for April 9 is Theodor Adorno’s seminal essay “Enlightenment as Mass Deception”. Make sure to print out a copy and bring it to lecture. Here’s the url:

Be advised that Adorno’s work is often called “difficult.” You will be reading one of the founding texts of Critical Theory and should be prepared to be challenged. You may– imagine!– even need to read the essay twice. And remember: “Dialectical thinking is the attempt to break through the compulsory character of logic with its own means.”

Good luck.

March 16, 2009

sick leave

Filed under: PSAs — equiano @ 5:18 pm

I may have picked up a dose of Dengue fever at the anarchist bookfair this weekend. Whatever it is, I’m prostrate. Seminar is cancelled for Tuesday, Mar. 17.

January 28, 2009


Filed under: PSAs — equiano @ 8:43 pm

I need your help. One of the problems associated with keeping the same seminar is that I do not have access to your course evaluations from the Fall. In the interests of improving our class I ask that you offer advice on what to change, what to keep, etc. For instance: would you prefer to work in small groups? In-class writing to prepare you for midterms and papers? Juice-boxes and sing-alongs? Post a comment to this entry and give me your considered views. Try not to use foul language. No need to identify yourself. Your input is much appreciated.

January 22, 2009

Welcome to AMS1b

Filed under: PSAs — equiano @ 7:43 pm


I forgot to mention a few things in class today. First: I hereby pledge to grade and return your work within 3 weeks at the absolute maximum. We (by which of course I mean “you”) are also going to be taking more quizzes this semester. These will be multiple choice, strictly to assess reading knowledge. Finally, I want us to play with maps. Here’s the first.


For the geographically minded, try this quiz

One other thing: the seminar syllabus will be posted over the weekend on its own page.

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