Alexander Benjamin Craghead Books / Articles / Essays Photography Research Public History Teaching About / Contact
Spring 2021 Semester
U.C. Berkeley
Program in American Studies
253 Evans Hall

Office Hours: TBD.
To make an appointment:
WeJoinIn.com/sheets/opfmb


Teaching Portfolio
Statement of Teaching Philosophy
Last updated January, 2019

Spring 2021 Semester: Research & Writing Break

I am focusng on research and writing for the semester. However, I will be in Berkeley, and available by appointment. To reach me, send me an email or make an appointment for my Zoom office hours at WeJoinIn.

Additionally, I will be grading papers for the following courses:

Charles & Ray Eames, 1948. Courtesy the Eames Office, LLC.

Recent Course | Fall 2020

Introduction to American Studies:
Making in America

UC Berkeley | Fall Program for Freshmen | X-AMRSTUD-10

Partially asynchronous | Remote | 4 Units

What does it mean to make? From methods of industrial mass production, to handicrafts positioned as critiques against those methods, to “make” things within American culture is to engage in a struggle over meaning. The everyday objects of life—food, clothing, shelter—are all made things. So, too, are cultures and traditions. Even ideas are said to be “constructed,” which is another way of saying “made.” Questions of what is made, who makes, and who benefits from making have long been salient with American cultures.

By focusing on the concept of “making” as a practice, a process, and a theory of meaning, this course provides an introduction to the interdisciplinary study of America. We will look at the historical, political, economic, and cultural meanings of “making” in the U.S as expressed and experienced in literature, popular culture, material culture, and the built environment.

Building on concepts and methods of inquiry which “define” American Studies, this course will emphasize analyzing cultural meaning, knowledge, and values through the examination of a variety of cultural situations and productions—including the values, patterns of behavior, and even objects that most of us take for granted—in order to explore how individuals, groups, and institutions interact through the different ways they give “meaning” to experience. Through close reading of diverse texts, we will work towards developing an approach that enables us to analyze critically the process involved in the ongoing creation, maintenance, and transmission of cultural meaning within American society. A student’s goal in this course is to learn close reading, critical thinking, and writing skills that will enable her or him to be a self-conscious and thoughtful investigator of American culture.


Detail: E.L. Blumenschein, Ranchos Church with Indians, oil on canvas, c. 1925.

Recent Course | Spring 2020

The American Southwest:
The Construction and Mediation of Identity

UC Berkeley | Program in American Studies | AS 102

M/W 12-2 | 214 Havilland | Partially remote | 4 Units

How do we know what the American Southwest is? This course explores issues of identity, culture, and control in a vast region located somewhere between the Pacific Ocean and Texas, and somewhere north of the U.S.-Mexican border.

Using methods drawn from several disciplines, including but not limited to geography, history, art history, and cultural studies, this course examines how place is constructed through geographic strategies of control; through representations in art, literature, and film, in mediations of everyday life via material culture, and several other means. Examples include the development of national parks and tourist economies; the creation of aesthetic systems such as the “Santa Fe style” and California Mission Revival architectures; and depictions of the Southwest through novels, Hollywood films and even contemporary streaming television series.

In a broader sense, students will interrogate the relationship between imagination and place. We will examine several broad questions. How are place-based identities formed? Who defines a region, and to what ends? How do ideas shape places, and places in turn give shape to ideas?



Prior Courses

N.B. Teaching assistanships not shown.