Skip over navigation

Seminars

2006-2007

Fall

POL/AMS ST24 The Just University?
Stanley N. Katz, Woodrow Wilson School

This course will examine the role of the university as a lead actor in civil society. The following questions will guide the course: What does it mean for a university to be just? Which ethical considerations must the university consider and what are its accompanying moral obligations to society? Should the university’s primary purpose be to provide education for democracy? If so, then how should it instill civic virtues in its members? What would it mean for the university to be a model citizen? In this interdisciplinary seminar, students from a range of majors will consider scholarly work from multiple disciplines as we work together to answer these difficult and important questions. Students from all disciplines are encouraged to enroll.

335 Chasin’ the Devil: The Influence of the Blues in American Culture
Randall Bauer, Department of Music

Blues is one of America’s indigenous art forms, and is often characterized by its deep emotional content and straightforward musical transmission. The music and its lyrics’ themes – suffering, anger, vengeance, redemption, catharsis – have been extremely influential to many branches of American popular culture. In this course, we will examine the roots of the blues in early African-American folk forms, and trace its effect on American intellectual and imaginative life through the present. A range of literature, poetry, music, photographs, maps, song lyrics, and films will guide our study. No experience in music is necessary.

341 The 1950s
Jenna Weissman Joselit, Visiting Professor of History

When it comes to the 1950s, common wisdom has it that the food was bad (and frozen); that cars bore fins and little else; that fashions were frivolous and the music sappy and sentimental; that gender relations were at an all time low and the nation’s moral conscience dormant. Was this really the case? By exploring the primary sources of the period – its advertisements, landmark court cases, films and television programs, liturgy, press, fiction, nonfiction and poetry, memoir, material culture and song – we’ll uncover a much more complex reality.

WWS 325/350 Civil Society and Public Policy
Stanley N. Katz, Woodrow Wilson School

Civil society is the arena of voluntary organizations (churches, social welfare organizations, sporting clubs) and communal activity. Scholars now tell us that such voluntary and cooperative activities create “social capital” – a stock of mutual trust that forms the glue that holds society together. The course will be devoted to the study of the history of these concepts, and to the analysis of their application to the United States and other societies. This will be an interdisciplinary effort, embracing history, philosophy, anthropology, sociology and other disciplines.

356 (AAS 356) Migration, Urban Space, and African-American Culture
Noliwe Rooks, African American Studies

Between 1910 and 1940, African Americans migrated from rural to urban areas. This interdisciplinary course will focus on cultural geography, or how the resulting changes and realignments of place and space shaped American culture and continue to affect understandings of African American identity and culture.

374/REL 374 Evangelicalism in America
R. Marie Griffith, Department of Religion

Christian evangelicals currently make up more than a quarter of the U.S. population and occupy some of the highest positions in government, business, and entertainment. This course investigates evangelicalism’s diverse manifestations, including the holiness movement, fundamentalism, Pentecostalism, neo-evangelicalism, and variations across theological and social lines of ethnicity, class, and gender. We will examine the origins of evangelicalism, its ongoing negotiations with other arenas of American culture, and the cultural and political involvement of evangelical groups and institutions.

460 (HIS 460) The American State in Historical Inquiry (Topics in American Legal History)
Margot Canaday, Society of Fellows

"There appears to be no government at all," Tocqueville wrote of America in 1831. "No central idea regulates the movement of the machine." Tocqueville’s assertion has come under fire by some historians who do see an energetic state in 195h century America, but few would disagree that the history of the American State is very different from Europe’s. This seminar draws on recent and classic work by historians of the American state. We will strive (in looking at both the 19th and 20th century state) to get a handle on what exactly the state is, and where historians locate it. What is the central idea that regulates the movement of the machine?

Spring

302 Disaster, Culture, and Society
Lee Clarke, Visiting Professor (Department of Sociology, Rutgers University) and Anschutz Distinguished Fellow

Big disasters are with us as never before. September 11, Katrina, the 2004 Tsunami loom large and have brought to the fore the importance of understanding how and why the world falls apart sometimes. Most people are barely aware of the meaning of disaster, but there are resources, academic and literary, that we can draw upon. This course will survey the major ideas in the inherently interdisciplinary field called “disaster research.” The course will be largely case-based, meaning that we will use specific cases as material for our conceptual inquiries.

304 American Business History: The Rise of Corporate America
Thorin Tritter, Department of History

This class will study the growth and development of business in American history. It will look at how and why corporations were initially established and what factors made them appealing. It will also explore how the corporation has changed over time and what led it to become such a dominant force in American society. We will focus on some major industries and individuals, but my hope is that we will also gain a greater understanding of the development of business in general. The course will rely on books, primary sources, and films as a way to explore the topic. It will also include a trip to New York City to explore Wall Street, the financial capital of the world.

320 (CHV/JDS 316) The Ten Commandments in Modern America
Jenna Weissman Joselit, Visiting Professor, Department of History

In contemporary America, few issues are as hotly debated as religion, especially when it comes to the Ten Commandments. Some citizens, claiming that the Ten Commandments are as American as apple pie, insist they should be displayed as often and as prominently as possible. Others, pointing to the separation of church and state, insist that the Ten Commandments have no place in the public square. And still other Americans are caught in the middle, torn between the Bible and the Constitution. This seminar contextualizes the current debate. Drawing on literature and the media, the arts and the law, it explores the variety of ways in which this ancient text has left its mark on America of the 20th and 21st centuries.

326 Regulation of Sexuality
Mary Anne Case, Crane Fellow at the Program in Law and Public Affairs; Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School

This course explores the many ways in which the American legal system directly and indirectly regulates sexuality, sexual identity, and gender and considers such regulation in a number of substantive areas of law including marriage, child custody, employment, education, and criminal law and constitutional rights such as free speech, equal protection, and due process. Readings include excerpts from reported cases, trial transcripts and law review articles together with excerpts from work by journalists and scholars in a variety of disciplines. If there is sufficient student interest, topics selected from among those students are working on for papers may be substituted or added to those on the course syllabus.

375/ART 375 Defining Moments in American Culture
John Wilmerding, Department of Art and Archaeology

A focused look at three key turning points in American history: 1800, 1850, and 1900. The course will study selected expressions in art, politics, literature, and science or technology to see how they embody national aspirations or anxieties of each period. Two continuing themes will receive special attention: the consciousness of self and of nature in American culture.