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Spring 2020

ASCP 81000: Intro to American Studies: Race and Performance, GC: Thursdays, 2:00-4:00pm, Professor Eric Lott  
This course will introduce you to the field of American Studies by looking at the social and cultural construction of race in—and as—performance.  The course seeks to accomplish a number of things at once: to examine the concepts, histories, and methodologies of American Studies; to think about textual “archives” and cultural “repertoires” as fresh ways to capture American Studies’ interdisciplinary imperative; and to construct a thematic focus or lens through which to study cultures of the United States and of the Americas hemispherically conceived.
 
American Studies as a scholarly approach was inaugurated during the Cold War, and its investment in the culture and society of a powerful U.S. nation-state grounded its inquiries.  After the Cold War’s demise, in a newly “globalized” world, we are in a better position to devise an American Studies that views critically the boundaries of and reflexive allegiances to the nation-state, that 18th-century technology of compulsory homogeneity.  While we will study a range of materials that consciously take up or express some idea of race and how it is “performed,” we will do so with reference to their hemispheric, Atlantic, or indeed global resonances and influences.  The identities, subjectivities, impostures, fealties, revulsions, desires, pleasures, and failures arising from these performances will provide most of the material for our discussions.
 
Very likely readings, among others: 
Diana Taylor, The Archive and the Repertoire (Duke, 2003)
Joseph Roach, Cities of the Dead (Columbia, 1996)
Jose Munoz, Cruising Utopia (NYU, 2009)
Donald Pease and Amy Kaplan, eds., Cultures of US Imperialism (Duke, 1991)
George Fredrickson, White Supremacy (Oxford, 1981)
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (Grove, 1952)
Judith Butler, The Psychic Life of Power (Stanford, 1997)
Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia (Penguin, 1787)
The Confessions of Nat Turner (Bedford St. Martins, 1831)
Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Bedford St. Martins, 1885)