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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Travis J Sands
ENGL 361
Seattle Campus

American Political Culture: After 1865

American literature in its political and cultural context from the Civil War to the present. Emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach to American literature, including history, politics, anthropology, and mass media.

Class description

This course on American political cultures will examine the relationship between the operations of state power and the practices of national citizenship from the early cold war to the current “war on terror.� As we read across literary, cinematic, social scientific, governmental and theoretical texts, our primary focus will be on how race, gender, and sexuality have served as important domains in the uneven transition from “the welfare state� to the “security state.� By the conclusion of the course, students should have better understanding both of how U.S. state power has transformed in the past six decades, and of how the complex intersections of the state, culture, and the market comprise the shifting grounds through which “Americans� come to understand themselves as political subjects.

Although the syllabus remains a work in progress, students should expect to read: novels by Toni Morrison, Junot Diaz, and Fae Myenne Ng; films by Elia Kazan and Todd Haynes; sociological texts by Alfred Kinsey, Gunnar Myrdal, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan; a range of pivotal government documents and supreme court decisions; and critical theory from figures such as Michel Foucault, M. Jacqui Alexander, James Scott, Lisa Lowe, Benedict Anderson, Ruth Gilmore, and Judith Butler. Grades will be based on active classroom participation, four short critical response papers, and a final 8-page research paper.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Travis J Sands
Date: 04/26/2010