Analysis of the role of culture in the formation of landscape patterns; components of culture that contribute not only to a "sense of place," but also to the mosaic of settlement patterns and occupancy that can be traced to culture.
This course takes a critical approach to the "cultural" in Cultural Geography. Rather than take for granted the patterns and places of culture, we will examine the ways in which geographies of culture are constructed, maintained, and defended. Special attention will be paid to the ways in which practices of space- and place-making are vital to the operation of power in societies. We will thus engage with feminist, queer, critical race and political-economic approaches to one of the major subfields of Human Geography. Within class, students will be introduced to innovative contemporary approaches to Cultural Geography, such as critical geopolitics and queer geographies, while the research paper assignment will allow them to explore one of the approaches in more depth, by writing a review of current examples of such approaches. In-class activities include writing about and discussing course concepts, such as nationalism and neighborhood, as they relate to student biographies and interests.
Student learning goals
Students will develop and clarify how their lives and landscapes fit into broader performances of belonging and defense of place at multiple scales: the home, the campus, the city, the nation, and other real-and-imagined territories.
Students will develop critical thinking skills through a persistent interrogation of taken-for-granted words like "culture" and "geography."
Students will understand what a "critical" approach to culture as a particularly geographical concept means: how geographical imaginations construct as well as reflect feelings of belonging and identity.
Students will develop their research skills by selecting a particular concept -- nationalism, for example -- and writing a selective literature review that helps them clarify their own research questions.
Students will learn about historical and contemporary debates within Cultural Geography as a subfield of Human Geography.
General method of instruction
Participatory -- students will actively engage each other and the professor in the classroom. Brief lectures, when appropriate or necessary. Assigned readings from two books. The occasional film.
Class assignments and grading
One 10-12 page literature review. Multiple self-reflective writing exercises. In-class participation.
Grades will be assigned based upon student participation and completion of in-class and take-home writing assignments. In-class writing assignments will be evaluated on effort and attention, while take-home writing assignments will be evaluated on focus, content, organization, and presentation.