Tutor: Professor J E Smyth
Exceptions: week 3 and 6 of term 1
Anita Loos, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1925)
Dashiell Hammett, Red Harvest (1929)
Walter Benn Michaels, Our America (1995)
The Formation of American Culture explores the history of the United States (1876-1929) through the rise of the culture industries, including the production, censorship, and consumption of literature, theater, music, radio, sports, fashion, cinema, and advertising -- and the ways in which individuals have sought to resist or reformulate dominant national discourses through cultural production.
Topics include the incorporation of culture as an integrated big business in the late nineteenth century, the early history of baseball, the creation of the Western, the emergence of working-class culture in dime novels and vaudeville, blackface and the erasure of African American history, Hollywood's attitudes toward working women in the 1920s, and the rise of the ethnic gangster as a media hero.
Students will learn not only about the history and theory of culture, national identity, and "modernism" in America, but also about the ways in which cultural history is developed, contested, and reconstructed via race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality.