photo: “Damaged Child” by Sally Man | contributed by SDSU Student Maya Vrechek for American Culture (Hum 370 Honors) Spring 2017

Course Overview:

This class engages with countercultures and subcultures as they struggle against the sanctioned behaviors of mainstream 19th and 20th-century America and claim their aesthetic territory through multivalent, politically articulate and illicit performances.

Join us as we explore the multivalent applications, meanings, and values of American [sub]culture(s). In stark contrast to mainstream spaces of school, work, and home, subcultures create different social formations and expressions that rebel against a positivist direction. We will observe “style” and body movements as challenging ideas of respectability to assert distinctive identities. Some principal postures that will be examined in detail are: how gender, race, class, sexuality, and ethnicity are “performed” through the music, art, lyrics, and literature of the 19th and 20th-century in the United States. Following identity, we will also correlate regionalities where countercultures are invented and evolved. Additionally, we will acknowledge the role of media in reinscribing mainstream culture, but also, at times, popularizing subculture.

This is a totally virtual seminar where participants will engage “live” through ZOOM.

Teams comprised of 5-10 students will coordinate their own weekly discussion sessions at their own agreed upon time. That’s right. Night Owls and Early Birds have equal access. You want to have your session at 2am. Do it.

Your Team is Your Class. You are free to interact with anyone in the class and will be able to connect, however, you’re main work for the course will be conducted with a group smaller than most graduate seminars.

Technology. You will work with ZOOM, WORDPRESS, Youtube/Vimeo, and Instagram.

Projects & Essays. There are no tests. There are no quizzes. This class challenges you to be intellectually creative and share your ideas. Assignments are focused heavily on writing and utilizing media. The FINAL is a group project where you and your team unite to present collective work and individual essays.

Learning Outcomes:
Students taking HUM370 will be able to:

1. Recognize the social constructions of gender, sex, race, class, ethnicity, religion, culture, and geography and engage with these lenses in assignments and discussions. Students will be able to discern inequalities created because of these constraints and identify the ramifications of “othering” to groups and individuals.

2. Identify trends, styles, movements, and sounds of mediated and live performances. Students will be able to conduct lyrical, textual, and basic-level musicology analysis to engage with counterculture creators in 19th and 20th-century America.

3. Illustrate diversified technological abilities: working knowledge of uploading, organizing, and displaying PDFS, Mp3s, Mp4s, JPGs. Students will learn how to operate the digital platforms WordPress and demonstrate creativity in their academic explorations of “American Culture”. Students will also practice different ways of “discussing” material through visualizations, comments, and tags utilizing.

4. Communicate effectively and professionally as scholars in groups and individually as discussion leaders and/or participants via ZOOM.

5. Demonstrate advanced sentence structure, verbiage, grammar, and “voice” for the appropriate venue—whether that be for writing blog posts and comments, virtual communication, or in formal essays.