Race, Class, and Gender in U.S. History and Culture until 1900 -course

Fall 2012, Period I, Sept. 7-Oct. 19

Tue & Fri, 12-14 E 225


Instructor: Dr. Benita Heiskanen

Office: Cultural History, Kaivokatu 12, 3rd floor

Office Hours: Tue 10-11 and by appointment

Email: benita.heiskanen@utu.fi

Phone: 02-333 6698

Course Description

This course explores currents of race, class, and gender in the United States from an interdisciplinary American Studies perspective, from the colonial period to the end of the 19th century. Through lectures and readings, our discussion will be contextualized within particular historical eras that exemplify the complexity of race, class, and gender relations. We will probe into these watershed moments through specific cultural case studies illustrating shifting understanding of “Americanness.” In this class, students will learn to analyze identity formations as interplays of individual, collective, and societal assignments. They will learn to critically think about the role that cultural representations have in history, ideology, and everyday practices. They will also learn to make connections between so-called “ordinary” people and academic discourses.

Course Format

This class requires regular attendance and is restricted to 20 students. Students will be accepted on a first come, first served basis. Please register by sending an email to benita.heiskanen@utu.fi by Friday, August 31, 2012. The final acceptance list will be announced on Monday, September 3, 2012.

  • Meeting Hours

The course meets twice a week: the classes on Tuesday are based primarily on lectures focusing on the historical context under discussion. The sessions on Friday are based on the assigned readings, group discussion, and team presentations by students.

  • Reading and Discussion

For the Friday sessions, students are assigned readings which will be jointly discussed in class (these will be available on Moodle, unless specified otherwise). Students are expected to prepare comments and actively participate in all classroom discussions. Participation will constitute 10 % of the final grade.

  • Presentations

For each Friday session, a team of students will be assigned to prepare a presentation on a case that deals with/illustrates the week’s discussion. The 20-30 minute presentations may consist of (but are not limited to) the following: 1) an introduction to the case 2) a discussion of the case through various interdisciplinary lenses and audiovisual tools 3) an analysis of the relevance of the case to an aspect of race, class, and gender relations during the particular historical period. The presentations will constitute 30 % of the final grade.

  • Course Diary

Students will write a course diary, in which they reflect on both the lectures and the seminars. The length of the entries may vary, but should be a minimum of 500 typewritten words on four weeks’ classes on the students’ own choosing. The reflections may draw on any of the course materials–lectures, readings, discussions, and presentations. These notes are not formal essays; rather, their function is to prompt you to critically analyze and assess the materials under study. They may deal with particular issues, questions, or arguments raised in the classroom, or issues of your own choosing. Whatever approach students choose, the reflections should illustrate the student’s own thought process relating to race, class, and gender relations (and representations thereof) during different historical eras. The course diary will constitute 60 % of the final grade.

Diary Specifics: Four entries (min. 500 words each), double-spaced, Times New Roman font. The final diary is due one week after the last day of class.

Course Evaluation

Please note that this course requires regular attendance. Final evaluation will consist of: participation 10%, oral presentation 30 %, and course diary 60 %.

Course Schedule

Introduction Fri, Sept. 7

Week 1         Tue, Sept. 11        Social Diversity of the Colonial Era

                         Fri, Sept. 14        Case: Pocahontas

  • Reading: T.H. Breen, “A Changing Labor Force and Race Relations in Virginia 1660-1710,” Journal of Social History 7-1 (Fall 1973): 3-25.

Week 2         Tue, Sept 18     “American” Identity of Slavery and Freedom

Fri, Sept. 21     Case: Olaudah Equiano

  • Reading: David R. Roediger, “Slavery’s Shadow, Empire’s Edge: How White Supremacy Survived Declarations of Independence” in David R. Roediger, How Race Survived U.S. History: from Settlement and Slavery to the Obama Phenomenon (London: Verso, 2008), 30-63.

Week 3         Tue, Sept. 25    Popular Entertainment of the Jacksonian Age

Fri, Sept. 28    Case: Blackface Minstrelsy

  • Reading: Alexander Saxton, “Blackface Minstrelsy and Jacksonian Ideology,” American Quarterly 27-1 (March 1975): 3-28.

Week 4         Tue, Oct. 2     Antebellum Reform and Women’s Rights

Fri, Oct. 5     Case: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony

  • Reading: Joan W. Scott, “Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis,” The American Historical Review 91-5 (December 1986): 1053-1075.

Week 5         Tue, Oct. 9      Radical Reconstruction and Racial Reorganization

Fri, Oct. 12      Case: D.W. Griffith, The Birth of a Nation

  • Reading: Eric Foner, “Rights and the Constitution in Black Life during the Civil War and Reconstruction,” The Journal of American History 74-3 (December 1987): 863-883.

Week 6         Tue, Oct. 16         Nationhood and the Crisis of Masculinity

Fri, Oct. 19           Case: Bernarr Macfadden

  • Reading: Gail Bederman, “Gendering Imperialism: Theodore Roosevelt’s Quest for Manhood and Empire” in Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman and Jon Gjerde, eds., Major Problems in American History, Vol. II: Since 1865: Documents and Essays (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2007), 96-103.
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