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Fall 2021 Semester
U.C. Berkeley
Program in American Studies
241 Evans Hall

Drop-in Office Hours:
Tuesdays, 11-1

Fridays, 11-2

Teaching Portfolio
Statement of Teaching Philosophy
Last updated February, 2021
Detail: E.L. Blumenschein, Ranchos Church with Indians, oil on canvas, c. 1925.

Fall 2021

The American Southwest:
The Construction and Mediation of Regional Identity

UC Berkeley | Program in American Studies | AS 102

4 Units | CCN 30788 | T/Th 3:30-5:00 p.m. | 89 Dwinelle

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?

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

Fall 2021

American Makers:
Workers, Artists, Activists, and Drop-outs

UC Berkeley | Program in American Studies | AS 10

4 Units | CCN 33275 | M/W 2:00-4:00 p.m. | 60 Social Sciences Building

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 them to be a self-conscious and thoughtful investigator of American culture.

Fall 2021

Senior Thesis Honors Seminar

UC Berkeley | Program in American Studies | AS H-195

4 Units | CCN 19147 | W 10 a.m.-Noon | Location TBA

Prior Courses