Skip to main content Skip to navigation

The Formation of American Culture, 1876-1929 (HI282)

Tutor: Professor J E SmythLink opens in a new window


Office Hours: TBA
Lecture Times: TBA
Seminar Times: TBA




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 feminization of American culture, racism in baseball and boxing, the creation of the Western, 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, mass culture, modernism, and the middlebrow.

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.

  • 3,000-word essay (50%)
  • Class participation (10%)
  • In-class presentation (20%)
  • 1,000-word source analysis (20%)
Contact Hours
Student contact hours for this second-year option module are as follows:
  • Module duration: 10 weeks (including week 6 reading week)
  • Lectures: 9 one-hour lectures
  • Seminars: 9 one-hour seminars, including revision sessions and writing workshops
  • Film screenings: 2 hours
  • Tutorials: 2 hours of presentation feedback, source analysis and long essay preparation
  • Total: 22 contact hours