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American Culture Studies

American Culture: Methods & Visions: Cars and Culture

American Culture Studies 375A - Spring 2020

What would it mean to look back at the 20th century in America through the rear-view mirror of a car? This course is a multi-disciplinary examination of the effects of the automobile on American culture, landscape, industry, and environment. Using maps, films, historical sources, literature, and cultural criticism, we will treat the automobile as a crucial technological invention and consumer dream machine to trace the impact of the system of automobility on 20th century America. Broader themes include the relationship between technology and history, the politics of mobility, the role of government and private choices, and the extent to which American culture is synonymous with car culture. Moving through the decades, each class will explore a particular aspect of cars and culture, including: Henry Ford's assembly line, car customizing, traffic control, labor and the United Auto Workers union, fantastic 1950s styling and advertising, road trips and roadside architecture, interstate highways and suburban sprawl, oil dependency, and driving behaviors. A Writing Intensive course, AMCS 375A serves as an occasion for students to think about matters of argument and presentation, as well as the methods and models that will serve future research. Students should expect to do a lot of writing and reading, and to produce a series of shorter essay assignments as well as a final independent multidisciplinary project. This course fulfills the "multidisciplinary" (MD) requirement for Minors and fulfills the "Methods Seminar" requirements for Majors. American Culture Studies (AMCS) is a multidisciplinary program that provides both a broader context for study in different fields and a deeper understanding of American culture in all of its complexities.

Section 01

American Culture: Methods & Visions: Cars and Culture
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