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Fall 2013 Physical

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AMST 100 – Introduction to American Studies

Fall 2013 --
100-01 -- 9:00 – 9:50 a.m. MWF – Information Technology 229
100-05 -- 10:00 – 10:50 a.m. MWF – Sondheim 409

Instructor: Ellen Gorman
Office: Fine Arts 424
Office Hours: By appointment

Required Texts
Celebrity Culture and the American Dream, Karen Sternheimer
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz
Shoplifting from American Apparel, Tao Lin
It's Bigger Than Hip-Hop: The Rise of the Post-Hip-Hop Generation, M.K. Asante

Films: The Social Network (Fincher 2010); Mean Girls (Waters 2004); Bomb It (Reiss 2007);
Objectified (Hustwit 2009), The Bling Ring (Coppola 2013)

Course Description:
In this course we will engage in an interdisciplinary analysis of oral, written, visual, and material representations of American life and culture and the historical and social contexts in which they are produced and consumed. Our analyses will necessitate a survey the interplay of the popular arts and American society, using American studies interdisciplinary methodologies. The framework of the course is the development of critical thinking and writing skills.

All students are encouraged to avail themselves of the free services at the University’s Writing Center, List of assignments and percentage of grade
Formal Assignment #1/Critical Analysis 20%
Formal Assignment #2/Creative Production 30%
Response Papers (4) 20%
Participation 15%
In-class Quizzes (3) 15%

General Policies
Assignments will be due in class on the due date; after class the assignment becomes one day late. Grades for assignments one day late will be dropped one full grade; assignments two days late will be dropped two full grades.

Note that weekend days count as full days. A grade of “No Credit” will be given for assignments later than two days late. Assignments cannot be submitted by E-mail unless specified by the instructor.

Formal Assignments
Specific handout assignment sheets will be distributed and explained before each assignment is due.

Response Papers Two full pages, double-spaced, responding to and engaging with a text of your choice from the course.

Keep in mind that class participation will count for 15% of your grade; participation includes contributing to class discussions, in-class writing assignments, peer review sessions, and regular attendance.
Three in-class quizzes constitute 15% and will be given at various and random points in the semester.

No laptops or tablet computers will be allowed during class sessions unless approved by instructor. No phones period.

In-class quizzes
Quizzes are given randomly throughout the term and graded on a 100-point basis.

University Policies
All UMBC policies, as stated in the Undergraduate Catalog, will be observed: All students are required to adhere to the University’s policy on Academic Integrity: SCHEDULE

Aug 28 Introduction and review of syllabus

Aug 30 No Class/Readings

Sept 2 Labor Day/No Class

Sept 4 Culture/Pop Screen Bomb It (online); Dead Prez video, “Propaganda” (YouTube); Check out website –

Sept 6 “Tokyology” episodes (online); “JPop” at; Hatsune Miku – “World is Mine” – Video/YouTube (online)

Sept 9 Material Pop/AMERICAN Culture Malcolm Gladwell, “The Coolhunt” – (online – in “Articles”)

Sept 11 Reader – Chapter 1

Sept 13 Screen Objectified; “Watch Every Apple Commercial Ever” –

Sept 16 Read all of Shoplifting at American Apparel

Sept 18 Masculinity/Gender Pop/AMERICAN Culture “A Feminist Takedown of Robin Thicke” – PolicyMic (online); “What Men Want, America Delivers: - Roxane Gay, Salon (online); response paper 1 due

Sept 20 ‘Boys on the Side” – Hanna Rosin, The Atlantic (online); “Dudes Relax” – (online); Tosh.O – Video – “Women Can Do Anything” (YouTube)

Sept 23 Screen The Social Network; “Generation Why?” – Zadie Smith, New York Review of Books (online)

Sept 25 Reader – Chapter 2

Sept 27 Screen Mean Girls; Reader – Chapter 3

Sept 30 Reader – Chapter 9; Reality Television and Gender – “Reality on MTV” – (online); Respond to “Gender Roles on Reality TV” -- CrossCulturalRhetoric Blog (online)

Oct 2 Screen The Bling Ring – Part One (in class);

Oct 4 Screen The Bling Ring – Part Two (in class); “Stealing Fame” – Zach Baron, The New York Times (online); response paper 2 due

Oct 7 Race/Music/AMERICAN Culture It’s Bigger Than Hip Hop – pp. 1 - 100

Oct 9 It’s Bigger Than Hip Hop – pp. 101 – 178; “President Drake: Hip-Hop’s Shifting Masculinity” - (online); “Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg and The Post-Racial Cleaning Power of Hip-Hop” – XXL (online)

Oct 11 It’s Bigger Than Hip Hop – pp. 179 - 259; Videos, YouTube: Public Enemy, “Fight the Power”; Snoop Dogg, “Gin and Juice”; N.W.A., “Straight Outta Compton”; DMX, “Last Hope”; Eminem, “White America”; Kanye West, “Clique” (lyrics)

Oct 14 Screen Biggie and Tupac (online –

Oct 16 “Fortress White America” – Richard Kim, The Nation (online); “Jay Z Needs Better Race Politics” – Brittany Cooper, Salon (online)

Oct 18 “When Will White People Stop Making Movies Like ‘Avatar’”? – (online); “Race, Racism and the Internet: 10 Things Sociologists should be Researching” – Racism Review (online); first formal assignment due

Oct 21 Reader – Chapter 4

Oct 23 Visual Pop/Culture Screen two episodes – MTV Cribs – (online)

Oct 25 “Banksy Was Here” – Lauren Collins, The New Yorker (online); check out; check out “Art Crimes” -

Oct 28 “Obey Copenhagen” – Shepherd Fairey,; “Shepard Fairey” – Iggy Pop, Interview Magazine (online)

Oct 30 Reader - Chapter 5; response paper 3 due

Nov 1 “Making the Ordinary Extraordinary” Andy Warhol – Daily Mail Online; “Pop Art: The Art of Pop Culture – online); Video/Tobias Meyer on Andy Warhol:

Nov 4 Reader – Chapter 6

Nov 6 Reader – Chapter 7

Nov 8 Digital Pop/Culture “The Top 10 Most Influential People on Pinterest in 2012” – Lauren Orsini,; “Sampling Pinterest” – Stephanie Medley-Rath, Sociology in Focus (online)

Nov 11 Tweet Culture: Top Celebrity Tweets on Bin Laden – Wall Street Journal/Video,; “Musburger Criticized for Remarks” – Mary Pilon, New York Times; Drone Tweeting/Teju Cole – “Twitter Strike on Drones” –; “Teju Cole on the ‘Empathy Gap’ and Tweeting Drone Strikes” – Sarah Zhang,

Nov 13 “The Reality Principle,” Kelefa Sanneh, The New Yorker (online)

Nov 15 Screen reality television show of your choice/respond in class

Nov 18 “Paradox and the Consumption of Authenticity Through Reality Television:”: Randall Rose and Stacey Wood, (online); Creative Production Proposal due

Nov 20 Immigration/AMERICAN Culture The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – pp. 1 - 94

Nov 22 The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – pp. 95 - 201

Nov 25 The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – pp. 202 - 335 “Interview with Junot Diaz” - Meghan O’Rourke, Slate (online)

Nov 27-29 No Class/Thanksgiving Break

Dec 2 “Colbert on Immigration: I Told You So” – The Colbert Report, David Ferguson, (online – article and video); response paper 4 due

Dec 4 Reader – Chapter 8

Dec 6 Creative Production Presentations

Dec 9 Creative Production Presentations

Dec 11 Last class; Creative Production Presentations

Dec 16 Final assignment due…...

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