American Diversity & Unity/Honors

HNR 260 - American Diversity & Unity/Honors

MySlice Info:

Term: Fall 2017
Class #: 11943
Section: M001
Credits: 3

Western, John

Counts toward:
HNR Soc Sci

Course Time(s):
MW 03:45pm-05:05pm

Eggers Hall 155

Course Description:

How do you get a country to tick along, if everyone — apart from those whose land this was before you came uninvited and dispossessed them — is from somewhere else? In what were dubbed the “New Worlds” of the Americas and Australia/Oceania, no country has a more diverse set of peoples from various “somewhere elses” than the U.S.A. So what can hold us together, especially in these times when academic fashion embraces “diversity” and “multiculturalism”? With a perspective of three and a half centuries or more, we shall delve into the cultural making of the U.S.A. Various broad‐sweep (and flawed) theories such as “Anglo‐conformity,” “Environmental Determinism,” “Social Darwinism,” the “Melting Pot,” and “Cultural Pluralism” will be encountered. We shall also meet, at the scale of the individual migrant, what it means to have come to America and to have left a mother country behind: this is something in the experience of all your families (and about which I may directly ask), perhaps in some of your own experience, and certainly that of your instructor. Indeed, my European‐ness has been somewhat re‐energized by having spent the six months from January through June 2004 in Strasbourg, on the border of France and Germany. Expect some impressions from a different perspective!

We shall look at the places America has created here, and how our past and present culture(s) are to be read in the very landscape of those places. As well as an overview of various patterns of the U.S.A. as a whole, we shall look at certain regions of strong characteristics, particularly meaningful in any apprehension of American culture: The Frontier/The West; Southern California; and the South. Finally, Syracuse itself has much to tell us that is typical of America. You will write a considerable term‐paper based on your own fieldwork observations of a tract of this city chosen by yourself. Fulfills the Arts & Sciences Writing Intensive requirement.