MALS Core Course Spring Quarter Offering

MLS 403: The American Experience

Taught by Professor Christopher Tirres

Thursdays, 6:00-9:15 PM, LPC

What does it mean to be “American”?  What, if anything, is distinct about the ways Americans tend to think about and view the world?  This course presents an historical and cultural exploration of the emergence and continuing development of ideas and traditions in the United States. We will do so by exploring some of the central narratives and myths of American history and life, including myths of a) origin, b) exceptionalism, c) work and success, d) individualism, and e) pluralism.  Special attention will be given to the role that race, gender, religious affiliation, and class have played in both shaping and challenging these guiding narratives.

Readings include Robert Bellah’s The Broken Covenant: American Civil Religion in Time of Trial and David Stannard’s American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World.  A wide variety of shorter readings will include authors such as:  King Ferdinand of Spain, Sa-Go-Ye-Wat-Ha, Jonathan Edwards, Benjamin Franklin, W.E.B. DuBois, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Jane Addams, Walt Whitman, Alain Locke, Luther Standing Bear, George W. Bush, Pat Robertson, Gloria Anzaldua, and Barak Obama.